A LONG-awaited park and ride scheme for the north of Colchester have moved a step closer with the submission of a planning application.

The £3million Essex County Council scheme will offer parking for as many as 1,000 cars and a terminal building.

It is hoped a £9million link road, connecting the junction and Northern Approach Road, will also be completed by the end of 2012, in time for the park and ride scheme’s launch.

The site, at Cuckoo Farm, will be accessible from the new A12 Junction 28, which opened at the end of last year.

Colchester Council leader Anne Turrell said: “I am very pleased the planning application has finally been lodged. I am delighted the county council is working with the borough council to achieve this.”

Ron Levy, secretary of Colchester Retail Business Association, said: “To have park and ride will be a tremendous leap forward in encouraging people to come into the town to do their shopping.

“It will also help deal with traffic congestion.

“It’s the good news we have been waiting for.”

The first phase of the scheme is likely to involve about 650 parking spaces, with room to expand as demand grows.

Tim Waddington, general manager of Colchester United also welcomed the news.

He said: “It’s good to see further progress in terms of the key infrastructure in the northern part of Colchester coming together to aid the development of the town and the area around our stadium.”