A FINAL decision on whether Tollgate Village is built is likely to take place in the New Year after the judgement was deferred on Thursday.
The marginal vote to approval the plans went against the recommendations of officers who have now been tasked with producing a new report which states the risks of approving the development and also any financial implications which the decision may create as part of the Deferral and Recommendation Overturn Procedure.
Colchester’s Councils major development specialist Vincent Pearce warned the vote to provisionally back the scheme was like “driving a horse and cart through the policy” and officers will have to advise on any conditions they believe are necessary for the work to begin.
The scheme will then go back before the planning committee, with councillors asked to vote again on the proposal having read the new report.
Members are permitted to change their vote, and different councillors all together could be sitting on the committee at the time of the new ballot.
No members of the public will be allowed to join the debate.
Ron Levy, secretary of the Colchester Retail Business Association said he was stunned the scheme had not been thrown out by councillors as it presented such a huge threat to the town centre.
He said: “In all the 40 years I have been involved in local government and I have never witnessed such an experience.
“It was astonishing.
“For members of the committee to go against such strong recommendations of officers and a consultation which has cost a lot of money, I think is appalling.
“I was shocked even one member of the committee could support it.
“I am not one to believe officers are right all of the time but on this occasion they had done an extremely thorough job.
“CoRBA will continue to fight for the survival of a number of specialist independent retailers in the who have survived a very long and hard recession only to have this thrown at them.
“It is their livelihoods, for some of them their mortgage equity is tied up in their businesses. Did they think about that?
“Now we need to wait for the officers and see what the report which goes in front of the committee in the sequel to this says.”
MP for the area Priti Patel has called on the council to back the decision.
She said: “With more housing and development in Stanway the Tollgate Village development will provide new facilities for the area as well as jobs.
“We all want to see a thriving and prosperous town centre in Colchester.
“But the council needs to do more to promote the town centre as its long term sustainability and economic growth cannot be guaranteed by excessive protectionism and by the denial of investment in commercial, leisure and retail facilities in Stanway and elsewhere.”
Missed last night's live blog on how the meeting unfolded? Click here to relive the drama.