READERS have reacted angrily to plans for 120 homes on the site of the former Essex County Hospital - with one comparing the scheme to looking like a prison.

Development firm Essex Housing, an arm of Essex County Council, is seeking 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.

The site’s historic buildings, which include the Grade II listed main hospital, nurses block and kitchen, will be saved.

A number of the more contemporary buildings will be demolished to “improve the setting”.

Essex Housing has planned for four affordable homes as part of the development.

A total of 149 parking spaces would be provided for residents, with County Hall saying both of Colchester’s train stations are within “a reasonable walking distance”.

Public objections to the plans have been issued by residents of Lexden Road.

One said the scheme had the potential of creating an “architectural disaster”.

“In its present form, this application has the potential of creating an architectural disaster in this conservation area, one of the most important areas in historic Colchester,” he said.

“To borrow a phrase from Prince Charles, we would be left with a monstrous carbuncle, dominating the area and obscuring the elegant historic hospital building.

“What a legacy to be left with the people of Colchester.

“The application must be rejected.”

Responding to criticism levelled at the plans by neighbours, Gazette reader Rita Warren said: “It looks like a prison, really out of character with the buildings in Lexden Road.

“How can Colchester Council approve these?”

Reader Glen Hook added: “Forget what it looks like, anyone see a problem with the parking here?

“120 homes, some will come with two to three cars if you include the odd business vehicle taken home at night.

“It is just more traffic for Colchester’s town to handle.”

A spokesman for Essex Housing said: “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.

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

“We also understand that development can lead to concern about potential impact on roads infrastructure.

“Through our transport assessment, we are confident the completed development would have fewer related traffic movements at peak times than when the site functioned as a hospital.”