AN official bid has been launched to protect popular playing fields from developers – by decree of the Queen.

Colchester Council is to submit an application to have Mile End recreation ground, off Ford’s Lane, placed into a trust as part of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge.

If successful, it would mean the playing fields – which have been mooted for housing or a secondary school in the past – would have the highest form of protection from development available.

The news was welcomed by David Clouston, from the Love Myland group, which has been calling for the fields to be protected.

He said: “It’s absolutely brilliant news. Obviously residents could not be more delighted.”

The fields challenge, launched to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, aims to get 2,012 fields protected by 2012.

If Colchester is successful, it will have to pass a “deed of protection” stating it would not dispose of the playing fields or build on them, without permission from national group Fields in Trust.

Mile End councillor Martin Goss said he was delighted the move meant threats to the football and cricket pitches, pavilion, play area and car park of the site would be almost entirely removed.

He said: “This will achieve the future safety of the fields from developers trying to build houses. It will ensure future generations of children get to enjoy this fantastic open space long after I’m dead and buried.

“The fields are still owned by the council, but it offers an extra layer of protection.”

If successful, the recreation ground could become the first of many in the borough to be granted similar trust protection.

Campaigners hope to make land known as the Green, next to Philip Morant School and College, part of the trust after failed attempts to build a road across it.