PLANNING APPLICATIONS REFUSED
On 15th October 2009 two planning application (Change of Use and Listed Building) were registered with the Council to convert Jumbo to two penthouses, two flats, a restaurant and office space spread over 10 floors.
At the meeting of the Planning Committee on 8th September 2011, despite the Officers' Report recommending approval, both applications were refused by 7 votes to 5.
The bias in the Report was obvious to anyone who read it. The BTT proposals were described as "unrealistic". But it ignored our Options Appraisal, the only source of accurate costings of our proposals.
On the other hand, the unlikely claim by the applicant that he would "fund the deficit himself" [the £1.8 million loss that would be incurred by the submitted scheme] was accepted without question.
Developers are not in the habit of throwing away £1.8 million.
The applications were opposed by the Victorian Society, the Council for British Archaeology, The Ancient Monuments Society, SAVE Britain's Heritage, The Conservation Officer, the Highways Agency, many residents of Balkerne Gardens as well as BTT.
Only one letter of support was submitted by a member of the public.
Here is a copy of our Have Your Say statement, to the Committee against the applications (pdf).
The time allowed for an appeal has expired.
A new planning application may be submitted.
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Having considered the proposals carefully we wish to state our very strongest objection to the proposals and recommend that your Council refuse consent.
The applicant's own analysis of viability shows the scheme to be unviable. Proper consideration has not been given to the alternative of preserving the tower as a monument. The justification for what is proposed seems incomplete.
In summary we cannot support the current proposals and we agree with English Heritage (their letter of 18th November) that determination should be deferred to "explore the viability of both the proposed scheme and of the alternative of preserving the tower as a monument more fully"
...a better future for Jumbo will be brought about by the imaginative and sensitive proposal put forward by Colchester architects Purcell Miller Tritton on behalf of Colchester-based group Balkerne Tower Trust - people who really care about Colchester and its heritage.
What is needed is a more sensitive approach concentrating on retaining and reusing the existing historic features. We believe that such a project should take into account the aims and ambitions of the Balkerne Tower Trust, which we support.