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Forum calls for health centre on scrapyard site
A RESIDENTS’ group says community facilities, not homes, should be built on two scrapyard sites in the Hythe area of Colchester.
The Hythe Forum has criticised Colchester Council for failing to consult it over plans to sell the five acre site, in Haven Road.
A council report on the proposals includes only sketchy details outlining a “mixed-use” development, steps to decontaminate the land, open space and affordable housing.
Senior councillors are tonight being recommended to approve the sale of the site to developer Churchmanor Estates.
However, Ali Wilkin, who chairs the Hythe Forum, is angry its members were not told the former G&L Autospares and Autobreak sites, had been offered for sale by tender.
She said: “We have erratic spurts of flats and houses going up and the council calls it regeneration, but it is not. It is more building and not more business – and it is not supporting businesses that already exist.
“Are we finally going to get a GP surgery or a health centre in the Hythe?”
The council invited bids for the land earlier this year and Churchmanor was picked from three bidders.
Paul Smith, councillor responsible for resources, said many of the concerns raised by Ms Wilkin’s group would be addressed when a formal planning application was submitted.
He said: “The potential developers have a good record of community involvement. I am sure they will be keen to work on developing a proposal that will be a credit to the area and address some of the infrastructure requirements highlighted.”
The land was used as a rubbish tip for 24 years before being let to breakers.
Mr Smith said: “It has high levels of contamination and the cost of dealing with this runs into millions of pounds, which is beyond the council's resources.
“We were therefore advised to work with a developer of some description. This cost was reflected in the bids we received for the site.”
Under the sale agreement, the developer will have to find new sites for the two scrapyard businesses.
The agreement also says if the developer fails to start work on the site quickly, the breakers must be given the option of a further fiveyear lease on the land.
The Hythe Forum and Hythe Forward, a development trust which works with residents, are both planning to be represented at tonight’s council meeting.
Churchmanor Estates declined to comment.
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