Future Jacks

1

The SEXY Revolving Investment Fund Committee (the baby CBC Cabinet) will next be meeting at the Town Hall on 1 February.

We’d usually overlook this Committee for the simple reason that it is as dull as ditchwater.

But our ears opened up when we heard that the agenda would include:

“The redevelopment of 5-6 St Nicholas Street (Jacks).”

And more specifically:

“To approve the recommended proposal outlined in the confidential Part B of the agenda.”

Which makes it slightly tricky to scrutinise, if the information isn’t deemed suitable for the Little People.

But from the limited information made available, we can see that the proposals – whatever they may be – seem to tick all the right aspiration boxes for CBC:

“Restoring a historic building in a key part of the town centre to deliver economic growth, creating new town centre living opportunities and providing a return through a robust investment case.”

…aka Retail, Residents and Filthy Lucre.

This seems like pretty much a done deal. The Committee report recognises that the only alternative would be to leave the existing tenant on the ground floor (Bridge Way charity) and have vacant space upstairs.

Half decent point, well made.

But first a little social history: what is CBC doing anyway making plans for the old Jacks building?

The Council bought the building way back in 1967. It was leased to Jacks, with the most recent annual rent being £17,150. Sadly the legendary Colchester business went into liquidation a few years ago.

We’ve no idea how comparable rents for this part of town stack up. It would be most unfortunate if the level of rent expected by CBC was one of the factors in leading to the liquidation of Jacks.

But no one here is suggesting that.

Nope.

CBC however does have money to invest in the property. £30,000 alone was spent last year on a ‘feasibility exercise.’ This has now led to the current proposal.

£30k for suggesting the brainwave that a shop on the floor, and residential accommodation up top, sounds like a nice little earner to us.

One and two bedroom flats are to be created over three floors. A rear extension will alter the height of the building.

It would take a brave town planner to go messing with that iconic front. And yep – it really would be charming if that Jacks shop frontage was able to somehow be incorporated into the designs.

So why is what appears like a planning matter up in front of the SEXY Revolving Investment Fund Committee?

As the name suggest, funds from CBC are going to be ‘revolved’ and invested in the property.

Like most matters that CBC tries to push through these days, the redevelopment of Jacks is somehow shoehorned into the current civic branding.

The Strategic Plan [more or less] states that anything that moves at the Town Hall has to be nailed down to include the buzz phrases of ‘promoting Colchester’s heritage.”

And whaddya know: Jacks does just that:

“The scheme will “Promote Colchester to attract further inward investment and additional businesses, providing greater and more diverse employment” by investing in an area of the town centre which is currently benefiting from private sector investment.

The preferred development is expected to “Promote Colchester’s heritage and wide ranging tourism attractions to enhance our reputation as a destination” by giving a new lease of life to a well loved historical building within the town centre.”

We look forward to reading how pimping out office space at Sheepen Road is able to promote Colchester’s heritage for CBC.

No public consultation will take place for the plans. Planning permission will of course be required, which itself is subject to comments from the public.