Plans for new hotel, 12 bars and restaurants and leisure facilities at Northern Gateway in Colchester given the green light – but no cinema yet

PLANS for a controversial state-of-the-art leisure development were last night signed off – as long as a “non negotiable” crossing is included in the scheme.

Colchester Council planning committee unanimously voted to rubber-stamp the plans as long as the safety measure, in United Way, is created.

The proposal was put forward by Jackie Maclean (Con) which was supported by Pauline Hazel (Con), who said the development is for people, rather than cars and safety must be paramount.

Mrs Maclean called the condition on the crossing “non-negotiable”.

The decision means developer Turnstone can build an 80-bed hotel, 12 bars, cafes and restaurants and a ‘leisure curve’ with trampolining, a climbing wall and indoor adventure golf on land at Cuckoo Farm, beside the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

A 12-screen Cineworld, which is also planned for the site, will be debated separately next month.

The decision came after Alistair Ingram, from the Tollgate Partnership – which is behind the equally controversial Tollgate Village – said the scheme “does not represent a viable development” because the application for the 12-screen cinema was not taken alongside it.

He added: “You’re not being asked to consider the principal development, which was given permission ten years ago.

“There is no guarantee a cinema will be in this location. The scheme before you is clearly not acceptable for the site.”

He urged the committee to defer the application to “wait for the comprehensive scheme, which includes the cinema”.

He added: “To grant application would be a risk it is not necessary to take.”

But Chris Goldsmith, director at Turnstone, said the site would become a “vibrant employment and leisure quarter for the town” which would make Colchester “an even better place to live and to visit”.

He added the application “secures the key elements”, citing the hotel, car parking, pedestrian links and a public space.

Despite the cinema not being included in this application, he said the scheme “sets out clear intent and vision”.

He added the scheme would be “no bog standard development, this is infinitely better and will set Colchester apart and will be envied by people elsewhere”.

He added: “We have a real vision here. This is not your standard fare, this is exciting.”