"AMBITIOUS" plans for to build nearly 400 homes, more than 100 of which will be affordable, have been agreed by Colchester Council.

On Wednesday evening, cabinet members authorised the transfer of four pieces of land to Colchester Amphora Homes Ltd, the authority’s newly-created housing development company.

This will facilitate the council creating the development of 384 homes, 30 per cent of which, or 116, will be affordable.

The development sites are in Creffield Road, Military Road, Mill Road and the St Runwald Street Car Park in Colchester.

Tina Bourne, councillor responsible for housing and communities, said the council was making it a priority to ensure more affordable homes were built across the borough.

She said: "Unfortunately we have seen the rise of developers challenging their own contributions to the affordable housing.

"We have seen developers buy land and put in applications where we have wanted 20 per cent but there is a challenge over the statements and they then say it will be unviable if we put 20 per cent affordable homes

"We have seen our affordable housing build topple and that is a national problem not just a Colchester problem.

"We have a pressing need for housing of all kinds but in particular affordable homes. Colchester is designated a high pressure area for affordability."

She added: "We have decided we will go down the road where we will be in control of the sites and development."

Conservative councillor Darius Laws said the council's targets were "ambitious", particularly at the St Runwald Street site, where he feels the archaeology of the area might bring a few problems.

He said: "In the site behind the town hall the target might be ambitious depending on the approach you take to the build because there is incredible archaeology there, probably more exciting than at Painters Yard.

"Not just Roman residential dwellings but probably Roman industrial buildings and I'm reliably informed by an archaeologist that the Boudican destruction layer is still there below the car park.

"Given it is not very far away that putting a lift shaft into a department store revealed some treasure, who knows what could be there.

"It could be a really exciting opportunity, the access point to the site means we could widen it out and make it a great public engagement event."

The transfers, which will be made at market value, should be completed by the end of next year, with work beginning at the first development in spring 2019.

Financial details of the transfers and relating to the development were discussed in private.