A CAMPAIGNER has described a £980,881 lease deal for the proposed redevelopment of Colchester’s Cultural Quarter as “a knock down price”.

Alan Short questioned councillors on the Alumno plans at a meeting of Colchester Council’s cabinet on Wednesday.

An inspector is considering whether to uphold a decision to reject the plans.

Under the agreement, there are two leases between the parties - one for the student rooms site, where 336 flats were planned, and one for the site of the 87-bed Travelodge hotel.

The lease period for both is 250 years and the council would receive £980,881 for both, equivalent to £3,923 per year.

But Mr Short asked why alternatives options did not appear to have been explored.

He said: “It will be leased if planning is granted at a price of £980,881 for a 250 year lease.

“This seems very poor because the site on Magdalen Street was sold for £1.5 million and there is a site going now in the centre of town with plans to build nine flats which was sold for nearly the same £981,000.

“The jolly old inspector said if this site is so special and it is owned by the council why have the council done nothing to defend it, to prevent it being used for any old development coming or going.”

Mr Short also called for more details on the lease to be revealed.

Mike Lilley, the council’s communities boss, said: “We can’t actually do anything until the decision comes through, we have to wait for that.

“If it is rejected, then we can start looking at other things. If he does pass it obviously there is no point in looking at anything else, because they have got permission to build there.”

Leader Mark Cory assured Mr Short the council will make sure the lease is “as tight as it can be”.

He added: “That site was hard to find a solution which was viable in terms of the world we are in, in terms of being able to make something stack up on paper financially as well as bring back something for the council.”