CONCERNED residents have hit out at plans to house families in prefabricated flats above their properties.

Residents of Christopher Jolly Court, Colchester, have signed a petition expressing their opposition to the proposals, which are being explored by Colchester Council as a innovative way of creating new social housing.

If the scheme goes ahead, the new properties would be built off-side before being lifted on to the top of existing flats by a crane.

Mick Spindler, a community campaigner in Berechurch, handed the petition to Colchester Council's cabinet on Wednesday on behalf of residents.

He said: "There have been conflicting messages on things like the length of time residents would have to leave the building.

"Residents were distressed by the prospect of two bedroom flats and families moving in above them.

"They do not wish this to happen and they do not feel it is right for the area.

"The residents are in their 80s and to put families above them is a terrible idea.

"I am not against the idea of airspace building but I think this is the wrong place."

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Similar schemes have been used by authorities in London to meet housing demands.

Colchester Council says it is in the early stages of a feasibility study exploring the proposals, which could also be used in Berefield Way and Gardenia Walk.

Adam Fox, councillor responsible for housing, apologised on behalf of the council after some residents of Christopher Jolly Court did not initially receive the letter notifying them of the plans.

"One of the reasons this project has come forward is that we have a housing crisis here in Colchester and we need to deliver more homes," he said.

"But we do need to balance that with the genuine concerns about the changes to residents' accommodation.

"One of the things I want to make clear is that we do not inflame the situation."

Mr Fox added: "Residents might feel concerned so we must deal with it respectfully and listen to them."