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Lexden Gardens Read text
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  • Development of 120 new homes
  • Retention, regeneration and conversion of Grade II listed former hospital
  • Retention of campus setting with courtyards for community benefits
  • Quality of environment, amenity and wellbeing are at the centre of the proposal
  • Significant addition of new green spaces to enhance ecological value
  • Digital information sharing was at the heart of the project’s evolution

Planning approval for the regeneration of the former Essex County Hospital site was granted unanimously by Colchester Borough Council Planning Committee, saving the site’s historic Grade II listed buildings.

The scheme consists of the conservation and restoration of listed and locally listed buildings including the main hospital building, locally listed former nurses’ home, and other heritage assets, with the remaining buildings demolished and the creation of 120 new homes with a mix of high-quality one to three-bedroom apartments and three and four-bedroom town houses.

The design is based around retaining and repurposing the listed buildings to create a great place to live, with an emphasis on sustainability, health, placemaking and technology. It achieves this through the careful restoration and conversion of the listed buildings and by the deliberate retention of the campus setting.

The site is surrounded by a perimeter wall, with a series of courtyards facing the edges of the site and creating the sense of a fort, a protected site, distinct from its surroundings. The re-development retains this quality by keeping the perimeter wall and the string of courtyards around the edges.

Courtyards are the key placemaking tools as places to meet, to relax, to play, to rest. They are the building blocks of the new community, from the outward-looking main courtyard that frames the central lawn fronting the main entrance, to the more discreet and private new courtyards framed by the new townhouses.

Quality of environment, amenity and wellbeing are at the centre of the proposal. Residents will be able to enjoy outdoor space on balconies, patios, roof terraces or in the courtyards, all within safe walking distances, in beautiful surroundings. The ecological value of the site has been enhanced by a significant addition of new green spaces, reviving green open space in front of the main hospital building. Walking and cycling have been prioritised, and sustainability measures include photovoltaics, and car charging points throughout the site.

We worked closely with the local authority over two and a half years. Digital information sharing was at the heart of the project’s evolution, with 3D modelling and VR used to communicate stages in the evolution of the scheme.

Key facts
  • Designers: Chetwoods
  • Client: Essex Housing
  • Location: Colchester, Essex
  • Value: £16m (Phase 1)
  • Size: 120 new homes
  • Status: Completion 2026