A PETITION with more than 1,700 signatures has been presented to Colchester Council asking it do all it can to protect a beauty spot.

The petition calls for a wildlife corridor to be created at Middlewick Ranges in Colchester.

The Government-owned site was put up for sale by the Ministry of Defence in 2016 and has been allocated as suitable for up to 1,000 homes as part of the council’s Local Plan.

Earlier this month the MoD announced it is unlikely to be sold until 2021, but campaigners are still concerned about losing the wildlife haven.

Mick Spindler handed the petition over to the council’s ruling Cabinet. He said: “The petition is a request from residents for the council to do all it can to limit the loss of Middlewick to potential development and to preserve as much of the land as possible for a wildlife haven.

“I recognise we only have Middlewick because it is owned by the Ministry of Defence who have a firing range there, without that the land would have been built on years ago. Hopefully we now live in more enlightened times and now we know the importances of green land and open spaces.

“The petition calls for the council to use its best endeavours to ensure as much as possible of the current open space is maintain for human benefit and wildlife.”

Mr Spindler said he hoped an area similar to High Woods or Cymbeline Meadows park could be created after any development.

Deputy leader Tim Young said the council was against plans to sell Middlewick but had no say in the decision.

He added: “It is a Government asset which they should not be selling off. We all need to work together on this to protect Middlewick as much as we can.”

Residents are set to be invited to further meetings with the MoD regarding potential development of the area.

Campaigners have also launched a fundraising drive and are hoping to raise £1,500 to help support their bid to save the site.

Julie Ennifer, who set up the Crowdfunding page, said: “This land was once common land and was used by people to graze cattle on and more recently people use this land to enjoy walking their dogs, go for bike rides or a run.

“People are sick of Colchester being concreted over by more and more housing and losing vital green space for those who live in the area.

“We need this space for our well being and quality of life.”

Julie said the money could be used for legal representation, billboards or leaflets.

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/julie-ennifer.