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South Woodham Ferrers

South Woodham Ferrers is a fairly new small town of under 20,000 people, sandwiched in the countryside between the River Crouch and fens, Wickford, Burnham and Chelmsford.

Almost all of the housing is privately owned, some brightly coloured and the majority is under fifty years old. It is arguably one of the best designed towns in Britain, built in a village style around a central shopping centre, with well-defined circular and through routes. Most of the residential streets ending in quiet, child-friendly cul-de-sacs. There are purpose built cycle paths/walkways that interconnect the various parts of town. South Woodham Ferrers almost has that 'Toy Town' feel and appeal. Compared to many areas of the UK, South Woodham is a relatively safe and trouble free place to live. The provision of many types of accommodation from single-person flats, to executive style homes, has ensured a good age range.

south woodham ferrers town centre

The mass exodus of passengers every morning from South Woodham Ferrers railway station lets you know that it lies within London's commuter belt - Liverpool Street is less than one hour away by train. Many people prefer to tolerate the travel and its cost in return for a decent lifestyle in a pleasant and safe location.

Local amenities are good considering the size of the town; there is a library, there used to be a cinema (the nearest ones are now in Basildon and Chelmsford), excellent sports facilities, a leisure centre with a newly built swimming pool, gym, numerous parks, soft play centres and tourist attractions.  Common complaints tend to be about the dog poo on the streets, the local postal service which can deliver your mail at any time between early morning (if you're lucky) and late afternoon (if you're not!), and the Asda superstore in the centre of town.

Educational provision remains very good; secondary school age children can attend William de Ferrers Academy and there are several excellent feeder primary schools.

Certain local facilities have disappeared or diminished over the decades; the police station is no longer manned, the number of General Practices has been reduced, there is doubt over the future of the fire and ambulance stations, bus services fluctuate and the cinema was replaced by blocks of flats a long time ago.  However, there are still community facilities such as a village hall, a bowling green adjacent to the council offices and playing fields. There is a new attempt to re-establish a Thursday Market, 9:00am until 3:00pm, selling quality food, also a Farmer's Market every last Sunday of the month.

Further development

Despite some opposition to the building of additional housing because of concerns about stretching the current resources, it seems that a new estate and another major supermarket will be built on the northern side of the town.  The former Crouch Vale Garden Centre site was levelled in 2017 but work was halted over the winter. A few diggers appeared in May 2018 but little work has been done and activity has once again ground to a halt. Doubts about Sainsbury’s being the new supermarket arose during late April 2018 when Sainsbury’s announced a proposed merger with Asda, although according to local councillor in early May 2018, the new build will definitely be a Sainsbury's store and all current GPs have agreed to resite to the new medical facility when it is built in spring 2019.  Although progress is slow, the metal framework for the building is taking shape. A BP petrol station with Marks and Spencer Food Shop was completed in late August 2017. There is adjoining space for another unit. A planning application had been submitted and rejected for a KFC drive-through restaurant.

Traffic concerns in South Woodham Ferrers arising from new developments

Concerns have arisen over the volume of traffic now leaving the BP site to join Willow Grove. A drive-thru restaurant will cause horrible congestion. The planned expansion of RHS Hyde Hall in the next few years will also swell the number of cars.  It would be prudent to redesign the junction, widen Willow Grove and build pedestrian crossings to improve the safety of drivers and pedestrians.

Few people want to leave

The new developments have been met with mixed feelings in the town. South Woodham Ferrers has become a victim of its own success; people who live in South Woodham rarely want to move out of the town; it is such a good place to make a home that few want to leave and many would like to keep the town exactly as it is.  The younger residents have a different view because they need affordable houses and hope that improved facilities will develop over time. Read more about the new town plan.

Cultural Mix

Multiculturalism has made very little headway in South Woodham. There is a sprinkling of people of other nationalities but not sufficient to notice. Many of these people are health professionals.