Valued woodland next to the former site of a former school has officially been designated as an asset of community value after the efforts of Conservative councillors.

Lexden Springs School, which moved to its current site in Stanway in 2019, has an area of woodland near its former premises in Halstead Road.

Now the woodland at the former site has been approved as an asset of community value, however, residents in the surrounding area now have priority to purchase the land themselves – so long as they match the offer made by another bidder.

Gazette: The map shows the land which is now a community assetThe map shows the land which is now a community asset

Much of the application was worked on by Colchester councillors Sue Lissimore, Martin Leatherdale, Lewis Barber, and Dennis Willetts, and was formally submitted by the charity EnForm.

Speaking about the successful application, Councillor Dennis Willetts explained it would give the community the chance to keep the woodland, whilst Colchester Council would decide on the future of the former school building.

He said: “The council wants to develop the rest of the land by building sheltered housing for the elderly, but we need to balance that with the need for the local community to have decent areas to go and walk and enjoy the countryside.

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“Now we have got it as a community asset and the right to bid for it, we hope it will be handed over and excluded from the building plans.

“During the process, a lot of people said the area has been used by the community in some form and will be in the future – so it was an easy decision for the council to make.”

Mr Willetts added there is broad community support for sheltered housing to be built on the site of the school.

“It’s a bit up in the air, but they’ve been working up a scale, and in general, there’s community support for the sheltered housing for the elderly to be built as well.”

Many other assets of community value in Colchester include pubs – such as the Swan Inn and the Chequers Inn – as well as other facilities such as Rowhedge Allotments and Boxted Methodist School Rooms.