Colchester MP's concerns over 1,600 Mile End homes

A council made a "planning blunder" by not forcing developers to fund new schools where 1,600 new homes are to be built, an MP has claimed.

Permission was granted last year for homes at Mile End in north Colchester despite considerable local protest.

The area's MP Sir Bob Russell said no agreement over schools had been made.

Colchester Borough Council said a balance had to be struck between the need for new homes and profit levels to make the development viable.

Under the agreement land will be provided for two new schools but not the money to build them.

Sir Bob said he had met planning minister Nick Boles to raise the matter with him.

"This blunder means that taxpayers, not the developer, will have to foot the bill for the new schools," he said.

"What is very worrying, a point which planning minister Nick Boles is now aware of, is that developers in another part of Essex have already told the county council they will be looking for the same arrangement not to be required to fund schools using what has happened in Colchester as a precedent."

'Work with developers'

Colchester Borough Council said 24 acres (9.7 hectares) of land had been set aside for schools as part of the development and a £1m contribution had been secured against a total cost of £1.3m for services.

The spokesman said funding could be secured for schools from other sources.

The borough council had to secure a reasonable balance of opportunities, the spokesman said. "This project cannot finance everything that might be desired by the community," he said.

"The government has made it clear that councils must work with developers to ensure that sustainable growth occurs in order to boost the national economic recovery."

A legal clause has been included in the developer's agreement to allow future financial reviews.

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