The site is located within the historic heart of Colchester. It is next to the Roman town wall, and set behind Queen Street which is a mixture of eighteenth/ nineteenth century buildings and 1960s/ 70s buildings in the vicinity of the site. Two of the neighbouring buildings are modern developments; Firstsite clad in gold panels and about ten years old, and a 1960s building being converted into a Curzon cinema. The proposed buildings, therefore, have to mediate between the old and the modern.
Referring to historic maps, the site has always been on the edge of the densely developed town centre. The area to the east, known as Berryfield, has always been open land and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. For a long time it was the private grounds of East Hill House. More recently it has been under the control of Firstsite, but still not open to the general public.
Historically the site has been a ‘backland’, occupied by gardens or yards belonging to the Queen Street buildings or, most recently, the bus station. As such, it has not been tied into the surrounding network of streets and footpaths. Therefore, the proposed development makes new connections with Queen Street, Priory Street to the south (terraced housing) and Firstsite Square to the north.