Landmark bricks have been laid to officially mark the start of work on a new 26 home development in Waltham Glen, Chelmsford.
Moulsham Lodge, the former home to a local community organisation, is being developed by Essex Housing, Essex County Council's in-house developer.
Essex Housing is working to tackle the housing shortage by pledging £42m over the next five years to develop unused, taxpayer's land into much needed affordable and private housing across the county.
The site at Waltham Glen was home to the Moulsham Lodge Community Trust (MLCT) but after the centre closed in 2005 it has been sitting vacant.
Essex County Council, in collaboration with Essex Police and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, worked with the MLCT to find the group a permanent home. In March last year, the council bought a former police station nearby before handing a long-term lease to MLCT, putting an end to years of uncertainty and freeing up the Waltham Glen site for redevelopment.
Bricks were laid by councillors yesterday, Wednesday 19 September, to signify the start of the work.
Cllr Gagan Mohindra, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Essex County Council said: “I am delighted to have laid the first bricks at Moulsham Lodge today, signalling the start of work at this fantastic development."
“This site is a perfect example of how Essex Housing is striving to build homes our county so desperately needs, while using a taxpayer-owned site that has been empty and unused for so many years."
“It is imperative that public sector land doesn't remain vacant or fall into disrepair. This innovative development will ensure the long-term future of a much loved community centre and free up surplus land for more homes, which will in turn boost the economy."
Councillor Dick Madden, the county councillor covering Moulsham Lodge, fought for the community centre's long-term future.
He said: “I'm really proud of Essex Housing's unique and collaborative approach which has brought key public sector partners together to find a permanent home for this vital community hub, as well as freeing up land for new homes."
“It is great to see all the hard work cumulating in today's official launch and I look forward to watching the progress of the development."
Cllr Mark Springett, a Chelmsford City Councillor and CEO and Chairman of MLCT, said: “This is a welcome end to years of uncertainty, both for the vacant site and for the community organisation that rose from the ashes of the derelict and demolished community building. It is a pleasure to see the work starting at Moulsham lodge, this development will provide more, much needed homes in the city."
The apartments at Moulsham Lodge are due for completion by October 2019 and will offer both private and specialist housing.