A CONTRACT worth £16million for the building of the first phase of a 120 homes project on the former site of Essex County Hospital has gone out to tender.

The hospital, which closed for good in 2018, is set to be home to a new estate designed by Essex Housing, Essex County Council’s in-house developer.

The council is looking for potential suppliers to fulfil the contract, which specifies “construction work for multi-dwelling buildings and individual houses”.

The closing date for applications is February 17, with a contract start date of May 18.

The contract summary said: “Essex County Council, on behalf of [Essex Housing], is seeking to appoint a suitably qualified and experienced main contractor for the design and build contract… to provide 63 dwellings.”

The site saw plans for the housing development approved in 2020.

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Before building work could begin, archaeologists discovered Roman remains, including at least 19 bread ovens, 70 Roman burials, pottery, jewellery and tools, on the site.

Some of the key finds from the excavations could be viewed in an exhibition at the Roman Circus Centre.

The hospital opened in 1820, but closed in September 2018, when services moved to Colchester General Hospital.

The hospital was renamed Essex County Hospital in 1907, before playing a vital role in Colchester’s response to both world wars.

In 1964, the hospital unveiled a new radiotherapy suite, with the site eventually becoming synonymous with cancer care, with notable dedication and kindness from the staff onsite.

After many years of vital service to the community, the hospital was no longer considered fit for purpose, with plans made to transfer all of the services offered to the then Colchester General Hospital.

The new 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 spokesman for Essex Housing said: “Essex Housing is seeking to appoint a contractor for the construction of the first phase of development at Lexden Gardens, consisting of 63 new homes.

“The tender exercise closes on the 17 February 2023, with the aim of awarding a contract in early Spring.”