A DEVELOPER plans to build 45 new homes and provide an astro turf five-a-side pitch for community use in new proposals to regenerate a Colchester recreation ground.

Luton-based developer Dishland had initially sought to build up to 100 homes on the Gas Recreation Ground, off Bromley Road, and move community club Gas Rec FC to Langham.

But after residents groups and councillors signalled opposition to the plans, Denis Diggin, director of Dishland, has halved the planned number of homes and now plans for the Essex Suffolk Border League side to stay on site and use one of the existing football pitches and upgrade its club house to include a function room.

The astro turf training pitch could be used by the club for training.

“Everyone wins with our plans,” said Mr Diggin.

“By my reckoning, the new plans would allow for 64 per cent of the land to be used by the community, including the football pitch and the five-a-side pitch and a designated play area.”

At the moment, the land is designated as public open space and is not zoned for housing in the

Gas Rec FC chairman Mark Ennew added: “For us, this plan is a gift.

“We have had nothing but trouble for the last ten years with vandalism and unfortunately now we just expect it every week.

But Paul Smith, borough councillor for St John’s, which takes in part of the site, said: “The area is zoned for public open space and it would set a dangerous precedent for other areas of open space in the borough.

“The latest figures show 1,000 homes were completed in the borough last year, set against the requirement of 812, so we are not in need of finding new land for people to build on.”