Date issued: 2 March 2021 / Updated: 4 March 2021
Proposals to regenerate Vineyard Street and Britannia Car Park into vibrant new gateway locations to Colchester Town Centre are to be considered at Colchester Borough Council’s Virtual Cabinet Meeting on 10 March 2021.
With the economic recovery of the borough as a priority, alongside the need to deliver more high-quality affordable homes, the council has identified the two locations as key sites for well-designed and sustainable new urban neighbourhoods, where residential communities, commerce, cultural and social activities can thrive.
Proposals for both Vineyard Street and Britannia Car Park place an emphasis on enhancing the areas’ rich heritage assets and settings to create places to live with distinct character and identity.
The vision for Vineyard Street includes a new residential neighbourhood of up to 70 highly sustainable new homes built along the area’s former medieval street plan. The Roman town wall would be ‘opened up’ to create a backdrop to new public spaces, featuring commercial units. With a mix of homes, retail, food and drink outlets and pop up stalls, the proposals will bring added vitality to the area, support local hospitality and business, boost visitor numbers and Town Centre footfall, and encourage dwell time.
At Britannia Car Park, proposals could see the construction of up to 120 new homes, including 30% affordable homes, set within a rejuvenated and improved public amenity area. The Priory Scheduled Ancient Monument setting will be revived with new planting to create a new high-quality green town square and a more attractive gateway into the south-eastern side of town.
The final schemes will follow careful review of car parking needs and capacity across Colchester. Some spaces will be retained, including for blue badge holders, but with greater emphasis being given to sustainable and active travel modes, including the forthcoming £100m Rapid Transit System and other public transport.
As part of the council’s recently-approved Positive Parking Strategy, the council is undertaking a review of car parking needs and capacity across the whole of Colchester Town Centre.
Alternative parking for any unmet demand will be considered as part of this review, and the need for alternatives for the future will be informed by the decision on this development. The options for parking need will evolve into a future Parking Estate Plan.
Motorists will be able to use capacity in the other nearby Town Centre car parks, including Priory Street, St John’s and St Mary’s car parks, as well as Park Active alternatives at Napier Road, Butt Road and Park & Ride.
Other active and sustainable travel options are being considered, supporting our Positive Parking Strategy, and the resulting Parking Estate Plan will set out any other parking provision that may be needed in future.
There is a commitment that blue badge parking will be retained.
In future, greater emphasis will be given to the increased sustainable and active travel modes and the use of improved public transport planned, such as the £100m Rapid Transit System.
Cllr David King, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, said: “The transformation of these two sites into vibrant new ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ with improved public realm, softer landscaping and a boosted café culture, will add vitality to the Town Centre and support a stronger post-Covid recovery for the borough.
“This is a hugely welcome step change, away from shopping alone, to realising the potential of these spaces. They are strategically located and can be welcoming and inspiring gateways into town for residents, shoppers and visitors alike. Their regeneration will act as a powerful catalyst for even wider renewal and investment. Bringing people into great places to live close to the town centre will restore vibrancy and footfall. We can create a closer link between the places where we work and live and restore a new sense of daily life and community in the heart of our great town.”
Vineyard Street and Britannia Car Park were first identified for regeneration in 2005 within the ‘St Botolph Masterplan’, a broad regeneration scheme for a large part of the eastern Town Centre. With major projects such as Firstsite and Colchester Town Station already completed, and newer projects such as the “Grow On Space” for creative industries underway, this next stage of development is expected to dramatically improve the look and feel of the whole Town Centre.
A greener and more sustainable borough
The proposals take advantage of a range of new green initiatives for the town that include:
- The new Rapid Transit System (RTS) in Colchester which will link the University, town centre, mainline railway station, hospital and Park and Ride at Colchester Northern Gateway and pass along the Vineyard Street route.
- Partnerships with Essex County Council to implement ‘Safer, Greener, Healthier’ projects, and other sustainable transport initiatives to influence an overall reduction in car parking and improve sustainable methods of travel
- The town’s east-west cycle route which passes the Vineyard St development.
- Improvements to Air Quality which will be boosted by reductions in town centre car parking and traffic movements.
If approved, Colchester Amphora Homes Ltd (CAHL), the council’s wholly-owned commercial company, would progress the projects through feasibility and viability stages, which would include public consultation and further engagement with stakeholders.
Cllr Theresa Higgins, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services, said: “We created our companies in 2018 to help lead delivery on some of our strategic priorities. This is another example of how the council and its companies can combine a commercial approach with our public sector ethos, to bring about social and environmental benefits for the town. Colchester Amphora Homes Limited will deliver sustainable, affordable and high-quality homes amongst a mix of commercial uses that regenerate the area and contribute to the town’s long-term future.”