A proposed shopping development in a popular commuter hub is being met with disapproval by local retailers.
Shopowners and other interested parties have petitioned Colchester Council ahead of a planning meeting on Thursday, where a vote on the proposed Tollgate Village retail park is due to take place.
The retailers, who have gained backing from the Federation of Small Businesses, have argued that the proposed development would see their footfall plummet and ultimately cause stores to close.
"The Tollgate application would dwarf the town centre, sucking the life out of its businesses, culture and heritage," said Hugo Fenwick, trading director at Fenwick, which owns the Williams & Griffin department store in the town, to the Maldon Standard. "We are keen to continue to invest and create jobs in the town centre, but this might not be possible if the Tollgate goes ahead."
If the Tollgate development goes ahead, it would see shops, restaurants and cinemas being built across a 20-acre site. The developer's website also says that the development will generate 1,000 jobs.
"Some of the businesses in the town centre are clearly scaremongering," the directors of Tollgate Partnership said in a statement to the Essex newspaper. "The idea that Tollgate Village will deter investors is ridiculous."