CAMPAIGNERS are demanding council bosses rip up their 120-home estate plan for the old Essex County Hospital and instead use the site for social housing.

Colchester People’s Assembly has written to Essex County Council leader David Finch calling on him to intervene over the proposals for the Lexden Road site.

County Hall’s development firm Essex Housing is behind the scheme, which will preserve the historic buildings but offer just four affordable properties.

The letter states: “This site was one of several parcels of land given to Colchester by wealthy benefactors for the benefit of the town, and has benefitted our community both before and after the creation of the NHS.

“However, the current plans for the site will not provide any significant benefits to the town or meet the current and future needs of Colchester residents.”

The group says the site should be used to provide homes for those on the housing waiting list, young families, NHS staff as well as disabled and elderly residents.

It also raises concerns over the parking provision and the added congestion and pollution the development would bring to the town centre.

The letter continues: “Essex County Council and the NHS are being irresponsible in the design and target market of £500,000 plus homes for the wealthy. The land was originally given to the town to benefit the people of Colchester, not so that future councils could play at property speculation.

“This publicly-owned land should be used to benefit Colchester residents and used for 100 per cent social housing, not the derisory four units of unaffordable ‘affordable’ homes you are currently proposing.”

The group has set up a petition calling for a rethink on the proposals.

A spokesman for Essex Housing said: “Essex Housing take very seriously our commitment to the delivery of affordable housing. Over 40 per cent of the units in our current work programme are affordable or specialist housing, with some schemes delivering 100 per cent.The plans to redevelop the Essex County Hospital site are credible, deliverable and sensitive to the historic nature of the site and area.

“Without a deliverable plan like this there is a very real possibility that this key site will be left vacant and the historic buildings to decay.

“Despite the complications of developing a site with conservation and archaeology requirements of this scale, we are committed to delivering affordable housing on site. We have also agreed a review mechanism that will ensure Colchester Council receives additional funds for affordable housing should returns be higher than anticipated, setting a precedent for future development in the borough.”

Profits from the development, if approved by Colchester Council, will go back into funding services via the council and NHS.

To sign the petition against the plans for 120 homes, visit