A £5MILLION bid has been submitted to start work on Colchester’s first park and ride.

Colchester Council has submitted a bid, backed by Essex County Council, to build a 650-space park and ride at Cuckoo Farm.

The long-awaited scheme, which was given planning permission last August, was originally due to be unveiled in September this year.

However, no funding had been secured.

If the latest bid is successful, it will increase the chances of work starting in 2013.

Anne Turrell, Colchester Council leader, said: “With the help of Essex County Council, we have made a submission to help bring forward Colchester’s park and ride.

“It is a key part of the town’s regeneration plans and will enable more people to travel sustainably as well as supporting the local economy.”

The bid has been made to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

It has been handed £33million of the Government’s Growing Places Fund to distribute to local authorities for infrastructure upgrades.

Martin Goss, borough councillor for Mile End, said the success of the park and ride in Chelmsford, where he commutes to, showed how important it was for Colchester.

He said: “The park and ride in Chelmsford is absolutely fantastic and I haven’t met anybody who doesn’t think they’re good.

“I think this is a good opportunity for Colchester, if we get it right – which we will do.”

About £1.7million has already been secured to create a bus lane on the Northern Approach Road between North Station and Mill Road.

A travel strategy, recently published by Essex County Council, suggests bus lanes could be added under the railway bridge at North Station Road to help buses reach the town centre without hitting congestion.

Tracey Chapman, councillor responsible for transport, said: “Essex County Council and Colchester Council are continuing to explore what funding opportunities are available to deliver the Cuckoo Farm park and ride scheme and are working on proposals to help secure further funding from various sources.”

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership is expected to announce which projects it will support by the end of March.