COLCHESTER Council bosses should argue hundreds of extra homes cannot be built in Colchester because the borough has already taken on its fair share.

Members of Colchester Council’s Cabinet discussed the Government’s Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places consultation at their meeting this week.

If adopted, the scheme would see Colchester’s annual housing target increase from 920 houses per year which has been set out in the developing Local Plan, to 1,095.

But Conservative group leader Dennis Willetts urged councillors to tell Government bosses Colchester could not cope with so many more homes.

He said: “We have to argue we are an exception as we have seen such rapid growth in the past 15 years but helplessly little investment in infrastructure. We have roads which are too congested and a hospital which is teetering on the brink.

“I am sure the residents will hope the Cabinet responds to the consultation by saying Colchester has already done its fair share and we want to stick at 920, although many of us feel it is still far too great.

“We should be treating Colchester as an exception and the argument should be made with great vigour there should be no increased housing in the borough, unless infrastructure is provided.”

Council leader Paul Smith (Lib Dem) agreed the new target would be too many, but they could not argue Colchester was a special case.

He said: “An argument which says every other authority will have to take more housing and Colchester is a special case is an argument every other council in the country could make.

“Those who have made that point in the past have done so unsuccessfully.”

He added: “It is unsustainable without the investment in infrastructure and wrong for the Government to try and impose this sort of growth in Colchester.”

“The government’s figures are all based on people buying houses and in Colchester, in some cases, people are finding properties are too expensive to even rent.

“We need to build houses but we do not need the government to increase the targets.”

Colchester Council should be able to avoid the new figures if the developing Local Plan is submitted before March and the authority is likely to meet that deadline.

The council’s housing boss Tina Bourne (Lab) called for councils to be given the chance to build council housing. She said: “If this consultation really wants to do what it says on the tin, we really do need to lobby hard for council housing to be built by councils.”