A land transfer agreement to pave the way for more than 120 homes to be built at a former hospital in Colchester has been given the green light.
The scheme would see the 70 new homes developed through the restoration of the Grade II listed main Essex County Hospital building plus a further 50 new homes on the surrounding land.
Following a decision at cabinet on December 21 Essex County Council is now set to transfer the parcel of land it owns to its arms length housing development company, Essex Housing, which will take over the project.
Read more: Latest news about Colchester
The remaining two parcels of land owned by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust will be purchased before February 2023 before being transferred to Essex Housing.
Phase 1 construction is set to start in April 2022, phase 2 construction in January 2023 and phase 3 construction in November 2023.
Sales are set to start in May 2023.
The decision marks the latest chapter in Essex Housing’s development programme with other schemes being brought forward in Rochford, Colchester, Maldon, Epping Forest, Chelmsford, Harlow, Brentwood, and Tendring.
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The current Essex Housing programme comprises 919 properties, of which 48 per cent are specialist or affordable.
However only four homes at the county hospital site will be affordable.
Councillor Lesley Wagland, cabinet member for economic renewal, infrastructure and planning at Essex County Council, said issues around the cost of decontaminating the land has constrained the number of affordable homes.
She said: “There are four affordable units proposed here but overall about half of what Essex Housing produces is in the social housing or independent living category. And I really would defy anybody to come up with that sort of record at that scale on the development arms that we see elsewhere.”
Planning consent for the four acre site was granted in January 2021 which will retain and restore much of the historic buildings on the site.
The county council expects a contractor to be appointed in 2022.
Cllr Wagland said: “This is a project which will provide housing, it will provide returns to Essex County Council and those returns will be able to be taken either as revenue or as capital depending upon the best use of that money in the particular circumstances we’ll find ourselves.”
Archaeological excavations of the Essex County Hospital has uncovered a range of interesting Roman finds including up to 12 Roman pottery kilns, a mysterious small square building with foundations about a metre across, and burials including the skeletal remains of a young woman buried face down in a shallow grave with the remains of a very young baby nearby.