COUNCILLORS have dismissed proposals for how a controversial student flats development will be linked with a town centre car park.

Colchester Council’s planning committee was asked to endorse a method to create a ramp linking Priory Street with Alumno’s scheme, off Queen Street, which features 336 student flats, a hotel and retail units.

Two options were put forward - one creating a large opening in a Victorian theatre wall whilst the other featured a steeper gradient and was missing guard rails.

Councillors chose to endorse neither option at the meeting on Thursday.

Dorian Kelly, speaking on behalf of campaigners opposed to the scheme, said the committee was being put in an unfair position.

“You are being asked to endorse what will be in the end a delegated decision but you will be shouldering responsibility for something which I think will be something everybody is uncomfortable with,” he said.

“Asking the committee to pass an opinion, which is what it is, is at best questionable.

“We know both options are untenable and you cannot in all good conscience put your weight behind either.”

Paul Dundas, leader of Colchester Conservatives, who opposed the scheme, added: “I think it is pretty appalling really that what is effectively a new build scheme cannot accommodate proper disabled access in the year 2020.

“If the current design doesn’t allow for it they need to go back to the drawing board.”

The issue of access is one of the final hurdles holding up the controversial development, which was approved on appeal.

Planning inspector Melvyn Middleton imposed a condition which prevents the start of the works until a plan for the access ramp is approved.

Committee member Gerard Oxford described the situation as a “nightmare”.

He added: “If we are saying as council we want to bodge a hole in the wall to gain access in Priory Street just so a developer can line their pockets then that is wrong and we don’t care about heritage at all.

“When we talk about access we are talking about people’s lives and making their lives easier.

"I can’t vote for either of the options as I am either voting for a car which has a knife in three of the tyres or a car with a knife in two of the tyres.”

Councillors voted to not endorse either option.