PLANS to build new council homes on the site of former council offices in Weeley have been welcomed.

Tendring Council decided to sell off its Weeley Council Offices in 2013 as part of its cost-cutting plan to centralise operations in Clacton.

The building in Thorpe Road opened in 1939 for the former Tendring Rural District Council, with the current council taking over after being created in 1974.

The council's original intention was to sell the entire site on the open market, with cash from the sale paying back for the modernisation programme.

But following a decision by the council's cabinet on Friday, the authority will now allocate it for planning purposes, which opens the door for housing.

A further decision is expected in the New Year to choose a development who will construct new housing – including a number of new council homes.

The homes would continue to be owned by the council as part of the deal.

Council leader Neil Stock said the move would help dispose of the former office site and build more homes on the site, which has already been allocated for housing as part of the district’s new Local Plan.

“It has long been our plan to close down the Weeley offices and rationalise our workspace into fewer buildings – which are then easier to maintain, more environmentally friendly and ultimately which deliver a better service to our residents,” he said.

“I am also very conscious of ensuring that we mark the legacy of the Weeley site - the offices have served this district for very many years, and I do think we have a duty to ensure that the future use of the site will be for the betterment of the area, rather than just selling it off to the highest bidder.

“It also helps us to deliver more much-needed housing for those on our waiting list, supporting Tendring residents and families."

Opposition Labour councillor Ivan Henderson said: "The district already has a long waiting list for people who feel little hope of getting a council home, so any moves to increase council housing stock should be welcomed."