BLUEPRINTS for a fresh bid to turn Colchester’s historic Roman circus into a tourist attraction have been unveiled.

The plans detail how Colchester Archaeological Trust’s ambition – to buy the former Garrison Education Centre building and use it to access the circus’ starting gates – could see the light of day.

The trust needs to buy the building because earlier plans to buy the sergeants’ mess and gardens above the starting gates failed due to a lack of funding, despite a public appeal raising about £240,000.

Director Philip Crummy wants to buy the building for £250,000, refurbish it for £150,000 and secure access to the Sergeants’ Mess garden from developer Taylor Wimpey.

If all goes to plan the entrance to the building would include an exhibition hall, reception, a te room and shop. Rooms at the back of the building would be used by the archaeological trust.

The trust has written to everyone who donated to the original appeal, asking them to get behind its new plans to use public money to pay 40 per cent of the overall costs. The remaining 60 per cent would be raised with a relocation grant, because the trust needs to move from its current home, in Lexden Road, Colchester, and a mortgage.

In his letter to donors, Mr Crummy said: “If we succeed, future generations will surely thank all of us for our initiative.

“Just imagine the day when the entire footprint of the circus will be seen by future generations of Colcestrians, UK visitors and international tourists.”

The scheme has already been backed by Colchester Council, which has donated £30,000, Colchester MP Bob Russell and Jeremy Lucas, Essex County councillor responsible for heritage.

Destination Colchester, which joined with the trust in the campaign to try to buy the Sergeants’ Mess, is set to launch an alternative campaign. It wants to buy and transform the 19th century building into a heritage and community centre.