CAMPAIGNERS have set out their case against Alumno’s plans to redevelop the town’s so-called Cultural Quarter.

The planning inquiry exploring the developers plans for 336-student rooms, an 87-bed Travelodge, retail units and open space entered its fourth day yesterday and interested parties were invited to address inspector Melvyn Middleton.

Councillor Gerard Oxford was advised not to speak at the hearing by Colchester Council’s monitoring officer due to his position on the authority’s cabinet.

However Mr Oxford, who has been wheelchair-bound for around 30 years, spoke out criticising Alumno’s accessibility proposals for the land, off Queen Street.

He told the inspector neither the planned ramp, which didn’t meet legislative standards, or outdoor lift were acceptable.

Mr Oxford said: “What is proposed right now is purely lip service to equality and as a disabled person that is unacceptable in my view.

“I honestly do not see how this application came forward to the planning committee if it did not comply with legislation.”

He added: “If I did not come and speak today I would not feel I had done right by myself or other disabled people including those who have contacted me.”

Dr Michael Steinke addressed the hearing on behalf of the Priory Area Residents Association.

He told the inquiry Alumno had not properly engaged or consulted with the group’s members.

Dr Steinke, a professor at Essex University, said: “We would have liked to be consulted and involved in the process, it is a shame and smacks of disregard that the community has not been listened to in this process.

“Any future development of the site should synergistically enhance Colchester and provide positive, considerable long term outcomes to all of its citizens.”

Architect John Burton criticised the lack of the details in the plans in what is a conservation area.

He said: “No-one, even the applicant, knows exactly what is to be built and whether it will be brick or concrete.”

The seven day inquiry is set to finish on Friday.