MORE than 100 homes and an office block are planned for a prime piece of land in the heart of Southend, the Echo can reveal.

Plans are yet to be finalised, but the Echo understands Bellway Homes wants to build between 150 and 180 new homes on the former Prittlebrook Industrial Estate, in Priory Crescent – one of the largest available sites in the borough.

An office block has been added to the scheme, which looks set to include a new 16-bed Havens hospice, after Southend Council officers raised concerns over the loss of land for employment.

Nearby residents in Thornford Gardens and Manners Way, and the neighbouring Ekco Sports and Social Club, have welcomed the planned redevelopment of the derelict site.

Ted Lewin, Lib Dem councillor for St Laurence, said: “They welcome the development there and they welcome Havens Hospice.

“It’s a good news story because people have been concerned about it being empty and about what might go there.

“A lot of people feared it might become a new industrial estate.”

The Echo understands no affordable housing is planned for the site, with Bellway Homes planning only “high-quality” homes.

The housebuilder, which would have to pay for social housing to be built elsewhere, originally wanted to only build homes on the 20-acre site, owned by insurer Aviva.

However, Southend Council planning officers warned the firm that councillors were likely to reject a homes-only plan for the former site of Southend electronics firm Ekco, as the site has been used for employment since the Thirties. John Lamb, Southend councillor responsible for regeneration, has previously called for a new business park on the land, which is close to Southend Airport and the A127.

The firm has included an office block, expected to face on to Priory Crescent, to allay council concerns.

Aviva also owns the Ekco Sports and Social Club, off Thornford Gardens, which has more than 1,500 members, but the Echo understands the club will be saved from redevelopment.

Martin Terry, chairman of the Ekco Whitecaps Football Club, which uses the ground, said: “I’m absolutely delighted the council and developer have realised this ground needs to be protected.

“We are happy to have Bellway Homes and the hospice as neighbours, and hopefullywe can move forward with stability.”

However, concerns have been raised over the location of the entrance to a new 150-home estate.

Priory Crescent is already overburdened with traffic from Shoebury and the planned football stadium and shopping complex at Fossetts Farm is likely to create more.

There are also concerns Thorndale Gardens may be to too small to accommodate high volumes of traffic.

A spokeswoman for Bellway Homes said: “Bellway Homes are currently in discussion with Southend Council and Havens Hospices with a view to progressing a development plan for the site.

“Negotiations are continuing."