AN arts expert has called on Essex County Council to take control and turn an uncovered Roman road into a key feature of Colchester’s tourist itinerary.

It follows the archaeological discovery of the heritage landmark at the former Essex County Hospital site, off Lexden Road.

Archaeologists working for Essex Housing, the housing firm run by Essex Council, made the find while excavating the site ahead of building 120 new homes there.

Approved last year, the plans caused controversy as they only featured four affordable homes and concerns were raised over the design and parking provision.

The find, which was revealed exclusively by the Gazette, has now prompted Colchester arts expert Dorian Kelly to call for its tourist potential to be maximised.

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“I noted with interest the discovery of the section of Roman road,” said Mr Kelly.

“It would’ve been the main road into Roman Colchester, and probably the route which the Emperor Claudius took to dedicate the temple to Divius Claudius under the Essex County Hospital site.

“I also note the developers are planning to record, cover and preserve it for future archaeologists.

“If Colchester has any pretensions whatsoever to being a tourist town, and in the light of the national importance of this piece of road, then Essex County Council will not contemplate for one moment what the developers are planning.

“I will be grateful if the council would consider asking the developers to rethink their plans and to preserve this section of Roman road.

“It is the only one in Colchester which has not been permanently lost and it should be preserved in order to create something which can go on the tourist itinerary.”

A spokesman for Essex Housing said: “Essex Housing is working with experts from the Colchester Archaeological Trust to record the find and to preserve it for future generations.”

Colchester is rich in Roman artefacts including the foundations of a Roman theatre found 40 years ago in Maidenburgh Street.

Following this, the development of homes was halted and new plans saw a section of the theatre made visible for people to view.

The only Roman Circus in Britain was uncovered near Abbey Fields in 2004 and, as a result, housing has been kept away from being built over the remains.