NONE of the 110 flats and houses which are set to be built at the former Essex County Hospital are set to be affordable due to viability issues.

Essex County Council's development company, Essex Housing, has revealed further details of its bid to build a mixture of one to three-bedroom apartments and three and four-bedroom town houses at the Lexden Road site.

The developers say there are no plans for affordable properties due to in part to the complexity of the site and a commitment to the conservation of historic buildings.

The site is also believed to be of significant archaeological interest, with the famous "Colchester Sphinx" being found when the hospital was built in 1821.

Gazette: Essex County Hospital, in Lexden Road, closed last yearEssex County Hospital, in Lexden Road, closed last year

Test trenches have been dug with the help of Colchester Archaeological Trust, who will hold a public dig at the site before any development takes place.

Adam Fox, Colchester Council's new housing boss, said the decision on affordable homes was "disappointing".

He said: "Frankly I find it very disappointing that Essex County Council have not included any affordable housing in the plans.

"Colchester has a housing crisis and for a local authority to be building homes for only a select few who can afford them is unacceptable.

"This is in stark contrast to our own plans at Colchester Council. Our brownfield sites are being developed in order for us to provide affordable housing and we will be delivering a minimum of 30 per cent.

"Local residents will want to know what benefit this development will have for Colchester.

"It is in a prime location and I hope that following the consultation, ECC will review their plans and provide at least some properties for affordable rent."

A spokesman for Essex County Council, said: “Essex Housing takes the priority of delivering affordable housing very seriously.

"We have provided it beyond policy requirements in our previous developments.

“However, the Essex County Hospital site presents a significant challenge in the delivery of affordable housing.

"This is due to the constraints and understandable extent of conservation prioritised by Colchester Council and Historic England, as well as the potential rich archaeological value of the site.

“We will keep this under review ahead of the submission of a planning application.”

Gazette: A CGI image from above the developmentA CGI image from above the development

Further details have been revealed about the plans, which state the grade-II listed main hospital building will be preserved and restored as will the historic nurses block, kitchen block and old entrance building.

A large green open space is set to be reinstated at the front of the main building, which was previously the hospital's car park.

On-site electric charging points, at least one space per residential unit and a "car-club point" will also be provided.

The documents state: "Essex Housing's proposed development will provide a new beginning for the Essex County Hospital site, which presents an opportunity for the provision of new high quality homes in a highly sustainable location without generating any additional highways or parking pressures than those associated with the hospital use.

"The development will fit into the wider context much better than the current ad-hoc mix of tired historic buildings in need of restoration and 20th century unattractive functional buildings with no architectural value."

A planning application is set to be submitted this summer and if this is approved work could begin in spring 2021.