COLCHESTER Council’s failure to force developers to pay for a secondary school could cost taxpayers across the country “hundreds of millions”, it is claimed.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell spoke out after Colchester Council gave permission for 1,600 homes to be built between Nayland Road and Bergholt Road.

The planning agreement with Mersea Homes and Countryside Properties did not include money for a secondary school. Essex County Council said Colchester Council should have sought £14.6million from the developers.

It has admitted it does not know where it will find the cash for the school, which it wants to open in 2019.

Sir Bob said: “This blunder means taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the new schools.

“What is worrying is developers in another part of Essex have already told Essex County Council they will be looking for the same arrangement not to be required to fund schools, using what has happened in Colchester as a precedent.

“This could end up costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds across the country, with developers walking away with even greater profits as they will argue they should not be required to pay for schools.”

Mersea Homes and Countryside Properties still need detailed planning permission.

Once it is secured, work could start later this year with the first homes ready early in 2016.

Tim Young, councillor responsible for planning at Colchester Council, said Sir Bob had not taken into account the land given up for educational and community uses by the developer and money which will be paid to improve roads.