A TOP Tory says the only way any development could work in the town’s Cultural Quarter is to buy up a school’s field which backs on to the land set aside for a controversial scheme.

Darius Laws said the field, which belongs to nearby St Thomas More’s Catholic Primary School, is little-used and would be better utilized as part of a scheme to regenerate the eastern edge of Colchester town centre.

Controversial Cabinet-backed plans put forward by developer Alumno - which have faced strong criticism - are due to go to Colchester Council’s planning committee next month.

While Mr Laws has made no secret of his opposition to the current plans, he does support development on the site. He said: “There needs to be a conversation around how that field could be compulsorily purchased if it comes to that.

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“Looking at the current plans, the blocks that are there are using every single inch of available space to the detriment of the area. I think it’s time to look at a compulsory purchase of that field.

“How many other primary schools within the town walls have a field that size? From what I can see, it is not regularly used.

“North Primary School is outside of the walls and even it doesn’t have one. I’m not saying seize it tomorrow, but let’s have a robust conversation about the role it could play in the development of that area.

“At the moment, the Alumno plans promise to open up the Roman wall - until you hit a fence and if we’re serious about opening up the wall, that field needs to in the conversation.”

Referring to knocking down the former Keddies department store building and building an 87-bed, four-storey Travelodge, The Conservative boss added: “We seem to be obsessed with high-rising in Colchester and that’s fine if you’re getting a Gherkin or a Shard but we need a building to compliment Firstsite and for that to happen, we need space.

But school head Bridget Harris said: “This is not the first time our field has been in the conversation without us knowing about it.

“We do use the field regularly and we have agreement with Firstsite to use it when they have an event and we are happy with that arrangement.”

The head - who has objected to the plans - also criticised drawings sent to Colchester Council, which appear to show people lying on the school field on a summer day.

In planning law, the field is designated as a school playground.