PLANS to build 50 homes on a football pitch could ruin a thriving community, it has been warned.

Developer Dishland wants to build the homes, a new community-use pavilion, an all-weather five-a-side pitch and a school drop-off zone on one of the pitches at the Gas Recreation Ground, off Bromley Road, in Colchester.

But residents and council planners have opposed the plans because it would double the amount of traffic using Salary Close, a quiet cul-de-sac made up predominately of older residents, and the land is not zoned for housing.

During a feisty planning appeal hearing yesterday which Government planning inspector Isobel McCretton almost failed to control, each side levelled attacks on the other.

Mike Hogg, Colchester councillor for St Anne’s, who yesterday represented 71 objecting households at an appeal hearing into the plans, said: “There are 52 properties in Salary Close and what is being proposed will effectively increase the number of people, traffic and whatever else you have by 100 per cent.

“It would fundamentally change the character of the area and my fear as a councillor is it will create two separate communities.

“These [opposition] residents do not wish to have these plans go through and the last thing I want is one part of the ward in opposition to another.”