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Soccer: Stadium hope for Colchester

Plans for a new multi-million pound home for Colchester United could be submitted within weeks.

A 30-acre site for the new ground has been earmarked on council-owned land near the A12 at Cuckoo Farm and an outline planning application is on the verge of being made.

This could bring to an end a search which has lasted more than a decade.

The news was confirmed today by Steve Clarke, Colchester Council's head of estates and economic development.

He said: "Council consultants have architects preparing an outline application and we are hoping to put this before councillors in late May or early June."

Mr Clarke added it was intended to submit the plans at the same time as those for a new junction scheme off the A12, linking with the proposed Northern Approaches road.

This would provide an alternative access to the trunk road to the originally planned link from the A134 which generated widespread opposition from residents in Mile End and Great Horkesley.

It is understood this hinges on successful talks with a retail chain which would be located on both sides of the new junction.

Mr Clarke also confirmed detailed discussions were being held with potential partners in the U's development.

Of the 30 acres, situated south of the A12 between the Severalls Hospital site and Royal London Sports Centre, six would be used for the stadium.

Ten would accommodate car-parking - including a park and ride scheme for the council - and ten would be allocated for commercial use, including hotels and leisure facilities.

A working party of councillors, officers, football club representavives and the consultants are, according to Mr Clarke, continuing to evolve plans for the dual use of the stadium by the U's and the local community.

One plan has included using part of the stadium as a greyhound track. Mr Clarke said: "We are focusing our thoughts very much on the style in which Huddersfield Town have built a new stadium which is extensively used by local people and organisations."

The Huddersfield ground has recently hosted Scout parades and music concerts. Community use of a new U's facility is the cornerstone of Colchester Council's support for the project.

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