Moves to create a multi-million pound arts centre in Colchester have been backed by neighbouring towns.

Plans for a £12m visual arts centre in the eastern side of the town centre are gaining momentum. So far the project has secured £5m of funding from the Arts Council of England.

The scheme, which has been likened to a Tate Modern for Colchester, has now been welcomed and supported by rival towns in the region.

Representatives from places such as Ipswich and Tendring have agreed to support the project through marketing and publicity, such as on passenger ferry lines and in their own tourist information centres.

Those involved in the arts project claim backing from regional representatives will provide a major boost.

Ken Jones, Colchester Council's portfolio holder for leisure and tourism and who presented the scheme to members of the Haven Gateway Partnership, said: "There was overwhelming support for the visual arts centre as a regional centre of importance."

Max Stocker, spokesman for the Haven Gateway Partnership, said: "This is going to be one of the biggest visitor attractions in the region. Everyone in the gateway area will benefit from that."

Work on the new arts centre is likely to begin in two or three years' time.

Published Thursday, March 21, 2002