A FORMER prison looks set to be turned into 60 plush homes after planning officers recommended the plans for approval.

The outline proposals for Bullwood Hall, in Bullwood Hall Lane, Hockley, will be heard at a meeting of Rochford District Council’s development committee on Thursday.

The plans would see the former prison, which the Government closed in March 2013 and housed around 250 prisoners, demolished to make way for up to 60 homes, including the conversion of Bullwood Hall itself into three homes.

Campaigners are concerned though about the low number of homes allocated for the site.

Linda Kendall, of Rayleigh Action Group, said: “It’s going to be a series of mansions for multi-millionaires.

“You could fit 1,400 homes on that site but they’re just going to do 60 – it’s not enough.

“The Government want to sell off prison sites but they should have a look at what is happening with this one as if we’re not careful it will be a pro-forma for future developments around the country.”

Were the plans to be given the go ahead on Thursday, the developer – expected to be Redrow Homes as their sister company, Harrow Estates, submitted the application – would have to make 35 per cent of their homes affordable.

The provision was only recently included in the application after a High Court ruling won by West Berkshire and Reading District Councils over affordable housing on brownfield sites.

Ian Ward, Rochford District Councillor for planning, said: “We are just following our own policies with the 35 per cent target.

“Where possible we follow our own policies but obviously it is not always viable.

“It is good to see brownfield sites being built on, but it will only be 60 homes because that is the size of the site, the surrounding prison land is green belt so it could not be built on.”

The developer would also be required to, prior to the occupation of the proposed homes, provide and implement a residential travel plan, including a £3,000 payment to Essex County Council for the plan to be annually monitored.

Tim Booth, planning manager at Harrow, said: “We are delighted that the application is recommended for approval.

“The re-use of the former prison site for housing is the type of development that should be supported by everyone, it provides much needed housing on a brownfield site, it will also see the locally listed Hall brought back into use after being left vacant and semi-derelict for some time.”


Harrow Estates' masterplan for the Bullwood Hall site

Other requirements of the application being approved:

  • Provide public open spaces (ie a children’s play area)
  • Provision of 60 refuse bins, costing a total of £10,080
  • Build a 150 metre footpath between the development and surrounding woodland
  • A childcare contribution of £47,185
  • A healthcare contribution of £19,740
  • The transfer of Whitbread Woods to Rochford District Council

A further 70 homes for Hockley could also be on the horizon

WITH 60 new homes looking set to be approved for Hockley, another application for a further 70 homes in the town is also being considered.

The full application, for 70 homes at the site of Pond Chase Nursery, in Folly Lane, was set to be heard at Thursday’s meeting, but it has been deferred.

The plans would see the land, branching north from the Folly Lane entry, converted into 70 homes.

The site was included in Rochford District Council’s allocations document, which highlighted sites for residential development before 2021, in 2014 and is the subject of an existing outline planning application for 50 homes.

Buildings on the site were previously the location of a mushroom farm and would be demolished to make way for the homes, which would not encroach onto the greenbelt land at the north of the site.

The extra 20 homes in the current application would be required for the applicant, housing developer Charles Church, to deliver on the council’s requirement of affordable homes.

Access to the site, off Folly Lane, was deemed suitable for 50 dwellings in 2012 and Charles Church claim it could cope with the extra 20.

It is not known when the proposal will be heard by the council’s development committee but it has already attracted around 20 objections.