The conservative-led administration of COLCHESTER’s council said it had abandoned ‘explosive’ plans for more than 100 houses on a set of tennis courts … but the former head of the council said they already had been suspended.
It was revealed that the former progressive alliance of authority had discussed plans to create an estate of around 130 houses on the Eudo Road sports grounds in Shrub End.
Ward Councilor Pauline Hazell and election candidate Angela Linghorn-Baker said they had been asking for answers for more than a year about the site’s future, but to no avail.
Pauline said: “After taking over, we found out last month that the plans were actually quite advanced and were actually for 130-160 homes covering the entire site.
“Every tennis court, clubhouse, parking lots and a substantial part of the open green space had to be built with enormous development.
“It should be noted that these courts are only unused because this is what the previous administration decided. They restricted access to these courts and stopped taking public reservations, meaning the money couldn’t be taken, no investment was made, and then they left them to deteriorate.
“These plans would mean a great loss of open space and valuable recreational land in Shrub End, which was not going to be replaced locally.”
Colchester Council Chief Paul Dundas said he immediately called for all work on the project, which could have started within 18 months, be stopped while the community was consulted.
He added: “We have to find out what the local people want.
“I know Pauline and Angela will be there to talk and survey the residents and we won’t do anything until we get feedback.
The proposals consisted of approximately 130 homes and a 2,000 square foot medical center and general practitioner practice.
Colchester MP Will Quince posted a video on social media attacking the old administration for allegedly hiding the plans.
But former Lib Dem council chief Mark Cory said plans for homes for the site had been put on hold in favor of other options.
He said: “The trading company of the council came up with a first version of the program and we rejected it. We have started looking at other plans for the site, such as setting up a health center there, as well as maintaining some tennis courts.
“Essentially, we then put it on hold as we explored other sites in the borough, such as Vineyard Gate and Britannia parking lots.
“If the plans had been taken any further, we would have spoken to ward councilors and residents. No one saw these plans because we rejected them.
“I am disappointed that the member is playing politics with this issue again. The Conservatives are playing politics by not explaining the whole truth.