Ambitious and dynamic plans to help deliver long-term economic growth for Colchester are a step closer, following the award of £18.2m from the Government’s Town Deal Fund.
This significant investment was confirmed as part of the Chancellor’s budget statement on Wednesday 3 March 2021. This means a variety of projects, which will have wide-reaching benefits to residents across the borough, can now be progressed.
At the start of 2020, Colchester was chosen as one of 101 towns across the country that could apply for up to £25 million from the Government.
Over 1000 individuals, groups and businesses submitted their views on how Colchester can be improved following a successful bid. These ideas were developed into several related projects under the broad themes of ‘How We Live, Grow, and Connect’.
The bid was submitted by ‘We Are Colchester’, a dynamic partnership involving public, private and voluntary organisations, formed in January 2020.
Councillor Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that the ‘We are Colchester’ partnership has managed to secure this significant investment into the Borough.
“This funding focusses on things that really matter to residents and businesses. This includes town centre improvements, more investment for the heart of Greenstead, facilities for younger people, improved digital provision including 5G and physical infrastructure for walking and cycling. This is a fantastic boost for the borough and is testament to the hard work of many partners.”
Councillor David King, Colchester Council Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, and We Are Colchester Advisory Group Chair, said: “This is just the beginning of a new, exciting chapter for the town. We are keen to continue working with residents and local organisations to ensure their input positively shapes the development of our final plans.
“The timing could not be better. We soon will emerge from the health and economic crisis and these and other town centre projects will help Colchester adjust and recover. At a time of worry for businesses and those they employ, our town deal success will sustain or create new jobs and give us all confidence in the future.”
The projects supported may include:
- The creation of digital work hubs
- Transforming facilities for young people
- A digital skills hub at the Wilson Marriage Centre (Barrack Street)
- Public realm improvements in the town centre
- Restoration of 1000 year old Holy Trinity Church
- The first phase in restoring our iconic Victorian water tower ‘Jumbo’
- Transformation of community facilities in Greenstead
- The accelerated introduction of 5G
- Improved walking and cycling links across the town.
The projects will draw on lessons learned from Covid-19 and further boost the ongoing recovery work, to help make Colchester a greener, healthier place to live and work. This major investment will also provide a catalyst to attract further outside investment into the borough.
Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This is great news. We have established a bold vision that will help the town to embrace the future, with a strong package of investment programmes and projects around active travel, employment and skills, regeneration, young people, heritage and culture.
“We look forward to continuing the work with the community, local stakeholders, Colchester Borough Council and Central Government to take forward the Town Deal forward and the many opportunities it offers.”
Simon Blaxill, We are Colchester Board Chair and local businessman, added: “It’s fantastic news that Colchester has managed to attract this important funding. It will make a huge difference to local people – generating jobs, offering further opportunities to upskill and delivering improved community facilities.
“I’m looking forward to working with local businesses and residents to progress these exciting projects. These projects promise to make positive difference right across the borough.”
The next steps will be to agree ‘Heads of Terms’ with government on the funding, then continue detailed scoping work on the projects. This will include extensive public engagement, giving residents the opportunity to influence and shape how the projects develop.