Plans for Essex County Hospital site revealed

Ambitious plans to restore and redevelop Essex County Hospital into more than 100 homes once health services relocate to a £6.4 million centre next year have been announced.

Essex Housing, Essex County Council’s in-house development arm, has been working with planning officers on a regeneration project that would retain and restore the main hospital building and other heritage builds on the 4.5 acre site in Colchester.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust will realise a strategic ambition to leave the 200-year-old hospital site and relocate to a modern facility by next summer, when a £6.4 million renovation of Colchester Primary Care Centre is completed.

It will bring acute hospital services together on the same site for the first time.

Essex Housing has been investigating the site’s suitability for residential development, working with a design team, planning officers and Historic England in preparing a layout for the site. This involves the retention and conversion of existing buildings and new build dwellings.

Sue Lissimore, cabinet member for housing, said: “We’re working with planning officers at Colchester Borough Council on a design that will not only provide homes that are so desperately needed, but also restore historic buildings that have served the area for almost two centuries.

“When public sector land and buildings become surplus to requirements, there is often a risk they will drift into disrepair or lay empty.

“Essex Housing works with public sector bodies to stop this from happening. By working together to identify land we can deliver more for our communities and speed up housing growth.

“These images show our initial designs but they are subject to change. We will continue to work with planners to ensure our designs provide the best solution for this beautiful site and look forward to engaging with residents when they reach a satisfactory stage.

“This year alone we have begun construction of 64 properties on three vacant sites, and are working on another 379 homes, 194 of which already have planning permission. 180 of these are homes to help older people live independently for longer and we are investigating another 26 sites for redevelopment.”

Nick Hulme, chief executive of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Essex County Hospital is a much-loved facility that has served the population of Colchester and the surrounding area with distinction for almost two centuries.

“However, the site has been developed in a piecemeal way over the years and is a hotch-potch of buildings, both old and new, whereas the Primary Care Centre is a far superior setting from which to provide modern health care under one roof.

“Being next to Colchester General Hospital, it is part of a health campus which is far more efficient than having separate sites two miles apart.

“When the services relocate, the site will be available for much-needed housing stock which will ensure the safeguarding of this historic site.”

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