FRIGHTENED residents have called for action to be taken to secure a former college which has been ravaged by young vandals.

Colchester Institute closed its campus in Church Road, Clacton, in 2020 due to a year-on-year reduction in students applying for full-time places on courses and an ever-dwindling budget.

Churchill Retirement Living, which acquired the land, has applied to Tendring Council to demolish the building and replace it with a block of 61 retirement flats.

It has been repeatedly targeted by vandals for months, but damage has escalated in recent weeks after the front doors of the facility were smashed open.

Almost every window of the four-storey structure has been smashed and items, including fire extinguishers, have been thrown from the building.

One neighbour said: “There are gangs of young people going in there - sometimes four or five, sometimes there’s up to 20.

“They sit on the walls of homes opposite - it’s really frightening the elderly people here.

“The police are called, but by the time they arrive, the youths have gone.

“Two weeks ago the front doors were smashed open - it’s getting worse and worse.

“They just go in and smash everything up - it’s almost every window.

“You hear glass smashing in the middle of the day - it’s during broad daylight, not in the evening.

“The building is an eyesore now.

“I’ve phoned the council and they said it’s down to the land owner, but it’s in such a state it’s a safety issue now - they need to come and board it up.”

He added that vans are also pulling up to the site to dump waste, including sofas.

A resident in neighbouring Harold Road added: “It started during the pandemic with a few windows smashed, but now we get a lot of kids going in there.

“There are hoodlums running around all day, throwing things out of the windows.

“I’ve got kids here and we don’t want to put up with this.”

Tendring Council put up enforcement action notices last week which state the building must be boarded up within 28 days.

A spokesman for the council said it was in dialogue with the site owners and will take formal action if required.

A Churchill Retirement Living spokesperson said: “We fully understand local residents’ concerns, and although Churchill does not legally own the site yet, we have been working closely with the landowner and the council to help ensure the security of the site is improved as soon as possible.”