COLCHESTER Council will explore the possibility of working with a charity to create a multimillion pound youth centre in the borough.

Following cabinet approval, the authority's policy and public initiatives panel will investigate creating Youth Zone for youngsters aged between eight and 18.

Designed and jointly funded by the local authority and charity OnSide, Youth Zones are sports and social centres for young where they can spend time with friends, have hot meals, take part in group activities and learn from adult role models.

Phil Coleman, chair of the panel, asked the cabinet to add the initiative to the group's work programme going forward.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday he said: "It is an initiative from OnSide charity which is funded by huge amounts of money from financial backers and philanthropists.

"They ask the local authority to provide the land and £3 million. They then back the rest to the tune of £3 million and also provide three years revenue costs going forward."

Mr Coleman told the cabinet he visited Future Youth Zone in Barking, which opened earlier this year.

"It was jaw-dropping. The building is magnificent, I recommend you go and have a look, you will be amazed what they have done for the £6 million," he said.

"Within three weeks of opening they had 3,300 members aged eight to 18. They now have 1,900 visits a week.

"There are 60 full-time staff looking after those activities for the students."

A yearly membership for a Youth Zone costs £5 and each visit costs youngsters 50p. Hot meals are available on site for £1.

Future Youth Zone has a four court sports hall, a BMX track, football pitch, boxing gym, dance studio and much more.

Mr Coleman added: "Barking has 50,000 under 19s, we have close at 45,000 in 2016. The numbers are not too far apart.

"The centres have already had a significant impact on issues in the community.

"Whilst it takes £3m and the plot of land, the impact on young people is absolutely staggering. It is an investment for decades to come for young people."

The council's cabinet agreed for investigative work into creating a Youth Zone in Colchester to be added to the panel's work programme.

Resources boss David King said: "It is a fantastic idea. What we have to do before we get any further is understand it and understand the implications of it so what we do fits out borough.

"We are a mixed urban and rural borough and our model might be different to others.

"Our administration's action planning includes a couple of items to give some credence and support to the exploration.

"We have got some money allocated which will help shaping things in terms of what the focus would be but it includes making sure we understand what youth provision and support is."