MOVES to take playing fields across Colchester “out of the hands of politicians” have been welcomed.

Colchester Council is drawing up plans for the borough’s green spaces to be placed in trust so they can’t be sold off for development.

Officials are drawing up a list of play areas and recreation grounds suitable for protection by the Fields in Trust organisation. The independent group works with local authorities to draw up legal agreements to protect playing fields from development.

Anne Turrell, Lib Dem council leader, said: “These sites are to provide open space for recreation and for the benefit of local people, not to be built on.

“While they are already protected by being designated as open land in the local development framework, that designation can be changed to make them available to developers.

“Placing them in trust would put an extra bureaucratic hurdle in the way of that happening.”

Mrs Turrell said general and local elections next month meant progress on the scheme had slowed down, but officers have promised rapid progress after May 6.

Sites already identified as suitable include the play area and rugby ground in Mill Road and the Mile End recreation ground, off Ford’s Lane.

More than 2,000 homes are scheduled to be built in the Mile End area, with the recreation ground identified as a possible site for a new secondary school.

Will Quince, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Colchester, welcomed the council’s proposal.

He said: “I was the first to propose the Mile End fields should be put in trust, because people are desperate for this land to be protected.

“We do not have enough open, green space in Colchester as it is.”

Violet Cadman, 80, of Mill Road, Colchester, said: “It’s good for the children who go there and play. There’s always somebody on there. I think Mile End is getting overrun with new houses.

“I know people want places to live, but it’s getting very dense. A lot of houses don’t have gardens now, so these fields are important.”

Emma Vince, 20, Mill Road, Colchester, said: “It's a really good move. When we moved here 13 years ago it was fields opposite us.

“They are nice housing estates now but it was better for us when it was fields.”