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Poll: Should Colchester build new cycle facilities as part of expansion across A12?

Councillor Bill Frame

Councillor Bill Frame

A velodrome and mountain biking course could be among the first developments as Colchester expands across the A12.

The options have been put forward as part of Colchester Borough Council’s (CBC) plans for a Northern Gateway into the town.

Apart from a service station, the only current development with planning permission north of the A12 at the town is the park-and-ride initiative, due to open in March next year, and a restaurant.

However, under a draft framework drawn up by CBC’s planning consultants Allies and Morrison, an extended sports and recreational facility could also be built on land currently designated as countryside between the park and ride site and Severalls Lane – and outside the existing Colchester town boundary.

It would tie in with the growth plans of Colchester Rugby Club, which is considering a move from its current home in Mill Road to a bigger site north of the A12. Homes, plus a park to maintain the green space, could replace the existing rugby pitches.

The cycle park would be linked to the town centre by a new footbridge across the A12 between junctions 28 and 29.

A masterplan for the Northern Gateway project has long included plans for a hotel, health and fitness centre and restaurants around the stadium, which until the past year has stood alone as the only development on the southern side of the A12 at the new junction 28.

Now two car dealerships are in the process of being built along Axial Way, with one already completed.

Work is also under way on the final phase of the Northern Approach Road which, when completed, will link the park-and-ride at the junction to the town centre.

The overall framework for the Northern Gateway initiative, including the new plans, was debated and backed by CBC’s local plan committee at a meeting on Monday night. It will now go to public consultation with initial events in the next two months.

Councillor Bill Frame, the committee chairman, said: “The real issue is us going over the A12 and we have already had some people say they are not happy with that, but we are not building any houses or structures over there apart from probably the rugby club facilities.

“From our point of view it is an exciting development setting out our vision and shows we are looking ahead. This could be a major regional centre for cycling.

“The other controversial point is what we do with the current rugby club site they move, and at the moment it is suggested there’s some housing, with a park and green space. We are not sure how much at this stage but the reality is we have to pay for this and get the income from somewhere.”

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