A new retail park located on the western-edge of Colchester has been approved, despite the site being allocated for employment use in the Council’s local plan.

Colchester Borough Council granted consent for the development on a seven acre site in the Stanway area of the town. The proposal includes 23,669 square metres of retail space in nine units, and three café and restaurant kiosks alongside car parking and associated infrastructure.

The council’s planning report states that the site is part of the Stanway Strategic Employment Zone which is intended for employment uses. However, it identifies that the site forms part of the wider Stane Park development, the first phase of which is currently under construction.

Following an appeal, the planning inspectorate concluded that the phase one proposal “would bring a vacant site into beneficial use and the same can be said for the phase 2 proposals”. The report went on to say that “Whilst there have been proposals to develop the site for employment uses (between 1999 and 2006) these were withdrawn and the site has remained vacant”.

Officers said that “given the evidenced lack of viability for developing the land for employment uses (i.e. office or industrial development), it is considered that a refusal of planning permission on the basis of loss of employment land would be contrary to the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The report also sited the lack of a sequentially preferable site for the proposed scheme, therefore the proposals met the NPPF’s sequential test. It also considered that there would not be an “adverse retail impact” on nearby areas.

The plans were approved following consideration by the secretary of state. View a fly-through video of the proposed retail park below.


11 September 2018