Colchester is suffering a dramatic lack of open space because of over-development, a new report has revealed.

Years of allowing more and more housing to be built unsustainably has led to Colchester being in the bottom 10% of all areas in the UK for access to open space according to the damning report jointly published by the Ordnance Survey and The Sunday Times.

Analysis shows that Newham, in Inner City London with approximately twice the population, has fewer people without access to open spaces. The report shows that over 50,000 people in Colchester did not live within 500m of public open space. This is about 25% of the population having limited access to public open space, despite half of Colchester living in rural areas.

Colchester Conservative Leader, Cllr Paul Dundas, said: “This proves the point we have said for a very long time that Colchester has been expanding too fast without the proper infrastructure and the current Administration has allowed too many houses to be built without a moments thought about how people are going to live and where they have access to open space.

“This is a damning report on the current Lib/Lab Coalition that has allowed Colchester to be concreted over. We fought against the Garden Communities masterplan and were proved right when the Inspector threw most of it out, and it is the same Coalition that has been proved to be wrong again by building thousands of extra homes without any regard to the impact on the borough, the people and the environment.”

It has been proved in recent times with COVID 19 restrictions that people need good quality, easily accessible open space, not just for their physical wellbeing but also for mental health reasons, especially those in flats and houses without gardens.

Deputy Leader of the Conservatives, Cllr Lewis Barber, said: “We are not against building homes it is important that future generations have good quality, affordable places to live, but it must be done properly with good open space and sustainable transport links for cars, cyclists, pedestrians and buses. The Government wants to simplify the planning rules and build more houses which is a sensible policy, but it must be done correctly. We will work with the Government to deliver but we shall also be forthright in explaining that while other neighbouring councils have not built enough new homes, we in Colchester have been building at a dramatic rate. However, very badly built which has led to this disastrous report. Things must change in Colchester and we will bring about that change.”