RESIDENTS say historic priory should be used as an open air cinema in order to make better use of the site.

A consultation run by Colchester Council to see how St Botolph’s Priory could be better used found residents’ top three priorities are more events, security and lighting at night.

The public consultation ran from June 27 until September 21.

Responses from 358 residents were received from the initial survey and the top suggestions were voted on at the St Botolph’s Open Day and Market.

Residents also suggested ideas for events they would like to see at the site.

An open air cinema and theatre came up as the most popular, closely followed by food and craft markets.

Mike Lilley, Colchester councillor responsible for communities, said: “It’s great to see all the positive responses.

“Putting on more events will hopefully increase footfall within the priory and support the work we are doing to tackle anti-social behaviour.

“We’re already in early discussions with groups for events we hope to host in 2020.”

Security was introduced at the priory this summer and feedback confirmed it has made a difference.

The area around the 12th-century Augustinian priory is a known hotspot for street drinkers.

The council took the decision to extend it throughout October and it is planned to start again in spring 2020 and continue throughout the summer.

Mr Lilley said: “We are in the process of installing a CCTV camera and looking into the

cost of lighting the priory at night.

“I look forward to seeing these and the event ideas move forward, supporting our ongoing work to reduce anti-social behaviour at the priory.”

St Botolph’s Priory is a key heritage attraction in the town and only the ruins of the nave remain.