RESIDENTS have hit out at the plans to build 120 homes at the old Essex County Hospital, labelling the designs “like something from Soviet Russia”.

Essex County Council’s new housing development firm Essex Housing wants permission to convert the site into a new estate whilst converting and preserving the site’s historical buildings.

The properties will be a mix of one to three bedroom apartments and three and four bedroom town houses.

A collection of the apartments will be built facing Lexden Road, Colchester, in blocks which residents say will ruin the setting of the grade-II listed hospital building and Lexden Road itself.

Gazette: How the Essex County Hospital estate could lookHow the Essex County Hospital estate could look

Andrew Hill lives directly opposite the site.

“The design of the blocks is just like something from Soviet Russia,” he said.

“There is no architectural value in what they are proposing.”

Neighbour Paul Avison added: “These new buildings will block and obscure the lovely old hospital building.

“We do not oppose it being developed as a residential site. Taking down the ugly 1960s buildings is, no doubt, a good thing.

“But it is a missed opportunity. If they do it right it could be a real asset to the town and area.”

Plans for the hospital, which closed in November last year, have grown from 110 to 120 homes whilst four affordable properties were added to the proposals last month.

Gazette: Designs for how the landscaping could look within the developmentDesigns for how the landscaping could look within the development

Profits from the development will be reinvested in public services via the council and NHS trust

Resident Ray Wright said: “It is such a gateway into Colchester and Lexden Road is one of the main arteries into the town.

“These blocks will be the first thing people see when they come into Lexden Road.

“We would like to be given the chance to question the architect and we would like to sit down and ask what the thinking behind the designs is.”

Gazette: Essex County Hospital plansEssex County Hospital plans

Mr Avison added: “We will be left with this probably forever. Our concerns are being raised on behalf of the people of Colchester.

“People all over the town will have to walk past this development in the future and will wonder how they managed to get permission.”

A spokesman for Essex Housing said:"We recognise the importance of the Essex County Hospital site to neighbours and the wider town. The planning application is the culmination of extensive consultation with Colchester Council and local residents.

"A key principle of our proposed design is to enhance the visual impact of the site on Lexden Road, given its position as a gateway to the town centre. 

"Our plans will conserve and restore key historic buildings, remove unattractive elements and replace them with contemporary new-build homes that will complement the site and wider area.

"And we will revive the open space at the front of the main hospital building.

"Crucially, our plans will prevent the historic site from falling into decay."