THE campaign to stop 1,600 homes being built in north Colchester has been dealt a final blow after Communities and Local Government Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, ruled the development can go ahead.

He has decided not to “call-in” the decision to allow 103 hectares of fields to be redeveloped.

Mersea Homes and Countryside Properties wants to built 1,600 homes, two schools, a shopping precinct and community facilities off Nayland Road.

They still need to obtain detailed planning permission for each section of the site.

Campaigners had pinned their hopes on Mr Pickles overturning Colchester Council’s decision in September to approve the outline bid.

But a letter from Mr Pickles said it is up to the local authority to decide whether it was suitable.

His decision means work could start next year with the first homes ready early in 2016.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell said a cul-de-sac running through the new estate should be called “Pickles Folly”.

He said: “Just about everyone in Colchester knows this is a planning and environmental disaster.

“The consequences of additional congestion at North Station will be enormous.

“Most of those involved in the decision-making process will not be affected by this disastrous decision.

“The legal agreement between the developers and the borough council is so bad there will not be sufficient funds to build the schools which this development requires.”

Land is set aside to the north of the site for a primary and secondary school. However, the planning agreement only commits the developer to offering £1million for the primary school and nothing for the secondary school.

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

Martin Goss, borough councillor for Mile End, said: “It is the worst planning decision I have seen made in Colchester.

“The economics don't stack up. There isn’t enough funding for schools, proper robust infrastructure and healthcare provision.

“The decision is farcical, lacks any kind of coherent thinking and leaves me dismayed and angry.”

Stuart Cock, managing director of Mersea Homes, said: “We are pleased the Secretary of State, after carefully considering the impact of the proposal and the key policy issues, agrees Colchester has made the correct decision and supports the development in north Colchester.

“We will continue to work with all interested parties to help ensure the aspirations of the community and our own are delivered.”

Tim Young, councillor responsible for planning, said: “It was a local decision based on local planning policy and obviously the council is pleased it will go ahead.

“It’s much-needed housing for Colchester.”

The massive development means the council has all-but fulfilled its housing quota for the next 10 years, potentially protecting the rest of the borough from redevelopment.