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Ministry of Defence to sell Middlewick Ranges near Colchester for 2,000-home development

PUBLISHED: 06:00 07 September 2016

Middlewick Ranges in use.
Pic: Clifford Hicks.
EADT 7 03 05
EADT 18.10.10

Middlewick Ranges in use. Pic: Clifford Hicks. EADT 7 03 05 EADT 18.10.10

A housing development of up to 2,000 homes could be built on the Middlewick Ranges near Colchester, after the Ministry of Defence announced plans to sell the site for housing.

The MoD yesterday confirmed the military range would be one of 13 across the country to be sold, paving the way for new housing developments to help meet government targets.

The money generated from the sale, meanwhile, will be pumped back into the armed forces.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “We are getting rid of land that we don’t need to build homes that we do, generating hundreds of millions of pounds in the process.

“Our commitment to protect and increase the budget for our armed forces means that every penny of that will be reinvested into defence, helping to keep Britain safe.”

Colchester Borough Council said the land had not currently been earmarked for housing, but a planning application is set to be submitted to the authority in due course.

The borough council spokesman added: “The council has been aware that the MoD has been considering the long-term future of its landholdings in Colchester but, to date, has not received any proposals for consideration.

“The land is not currently allocated for residential development, but the MoD has the opportunity to submit the Middlewick site through the Local Plan consultation process which ends on September 16. The council would then need to evaluate the proposal to consider if the site should be included in the portfolio for sites to be allocated to meet housing need up to 2033.

“It is not possible at this time to say what the extent of any development on this site might be, as it would depend in the first instance on what the MoD was proposing.”

An MoD spokesman said the plan was to sell the land by 2019.

The area is popular with dog walkers, but any future access would be decided by new owners.

But Colchester High Steward and former MP Sir Bob Russell has hit out at the plans for housing, and has instead urged developers to consider its use as a country park, following successes for the High Woods Country Park and Cymbeline Meadows Country Park.

He said: “We must not allow remaining open land in Colchester to be built on. We have lost too much in recent years, and more has already been allocated for new housing. We must save what we can of open land. We need public open spaces within our urban areas.”

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