ENOUGH homes to build a town the size of Witham could go up in Colchester over the next 20 years.

Colchester Council has accepted it should allow 16,800 homes as part of a regional planning blueprint.

The council’s response will go back to East of England Regional Assembly, which will make its final decision in March.

But, it could tell the borough up to 34,000 homes are needed by 2031 – the size of Witham and Braintree put together.

The council has called for “significant investment” in infrastructure, such as improvements to the A12 and A120 and railways, if Colchester is to continue to expand.

John Jowers, Essex County Councillor responsible for planning, said infrastructure should follow building and urged members to be “careful what they wish for”. He added: “Any infrastructure improvement means the capacity for more houses grows.”

Kim Naish, town councillor for Berechurch, said Colchester faced significant traffic congestion already, without extra houses.

He said: “I worry that we will not be able to attract businesses because they cannot move around the town.”

Martin Goss, councillor for Mile End, said he favoured “option none”, highlighting congestion and problems caused in his ward, which has seen a large amount of housebuilding recently.

The East of England Regional Assembly is drawing up a development blueprint, with four scenarios being considered.

The borough’s local development framework committee approved its response, opting for the lowest figure.

Ian Vipond, executive director, said: “This is high growth, but we have overachieved in the good years and still continue to produce a significant amount of homes in the current recession.”

Consultation on the assembly’s house-building proposals runs until November 24.

A document setting the final target will be published next March and included in the East of England Plan, due to be finished in 2011. Visit www.eera.gov.uk.