Plans to build a new retirement complex on the site of an old sports ground have been backed by planning experts.

Officers at Braintree Council have recommended Churchill Retirement Living’s plans to construct 58 flats at the former Bramston Sports Centre site in Bridge Street, Witham, be given the go-ahead.

The proposals were first put forward in June 2017 but the developer saw its first application for 60 flats refused at an appeal in 2018 due to a lack of affordable housing and poor quality designs.

Churchill submitted fresh plans for 54 apartments but following discussions with the council, they are now seeking to build 58 flats within a four-storey building.

Officers say their concerns have been addressed over the proposals and despite admitting the development may cause some harm to the character of the area, they suggest councillors should give the go-ahead.

In their report, which will be discussed at a meeting next week, officers state: “There are a number of economic and social factors weighing heavily in favour of the proposed development, while there are also environmental factors weighing against it, primarily related to heritage impacts.

“When considering the planning balance and having regard to the benefits as identified, officers have concluded that the aforementioned significant benefits would outweigh the heritage harm.

“The proposed development would constitute sustainable development.”

Witham Town Council has objected to the plans, with one of its concerns centring on the lack of car parking.

The applicant has stated it will only provide 25 parking spaces.

But it argues it has addressed the main doubts about the impact their proposals would have on the historic area and will ensure the development is built as far back from Bridge Street as possible.

The planning committee will rule on the plans in a meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting takes place at Causeway House in Bocking End and starts at 7.15pm.