WORK is hoped to start at the site of a unique eco-friendly self-build project in early spring, it has been announced.

The Oakley Orchards development, in Great Oakley, was given planning permission for the first phase of the development last month.

A total of 23 of the total 51 homes behind allotments in Beaumont Road are now up for grabs, all set in fruit orchards with communal herb gardens nearby.

The eco-neighbourhood, with car parking for All Saints Primary School in Great Oakley, a new village hall and shop, are set to be created by Village Makers.

The concept is a first for Essex, with buyers getting to choose from six types of houses, from two to four bedrooms, all design around the concept of "neighbourliness".

The unusual part of the project means that interior layout and even the colour of the house outside can still be changed to fit the buyers requirements.

Carole Salmon, from developer Village Makers, said: "The infrastructure will be going in in early spring - that means the roads , sewerage, electricity and water.

"The trees should go in in early spring too - we didn't put them in during the autumn because it was so dry they wouldn't have survived."

A special herb garden, which is set to run through the site, is also expected at the same time and will be designed by gardening expert Jekka McVicar.

A handful of homes on the site are already earmarked for interested buyers.

Once enough are reserved in each orchard cluster, the low carbon, energy efficient homes, will then be built.

Though buyers can opt to project manage the built themselves using different contractors.

It was originally hoped a new doctors surgery would be built at the site, but while the building was approved he NHS has pulled out of the plan.

If built, it could instead become a wellness centre for the community.

For more information on the development visit