South Woodham Ferrers

South Woodham Ferrers is a fairly new small town of under 17,000 people, sandwiched in the countryside between the River Crouch and fens, Wickford, Burnham and Chelmsford.

Living in South Woodham

Almost all of the housing is privately owned, some brightly coloured and the majority is under sixty 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 rooms to rent in shared houses, to 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.

South Woodham Ferrers Amenities

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, Burnham on Crouch and Chelmsford), excellent sports facilities, a leisure centre with a swimming pool, badminton courts and gym, numerous parks, and tourist attractions such as 'The Call of the Wild Zoo' and Marsh Farm.  There is a fabulous choice of pubs and eateries considering the size of the town. Common complaints tend to be about the dog poo on the streets, the local couriers and the Asda superstore in the centre of town; in particular the parking management company.

Schools and pre-schools

Educational provision remains very good; secondary school age children can attend William de Ferrers Academy and there are several excellent feeder primary schools and pre-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 from the original six to two, the fire station is now manned only by on call volunteers, 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. Attempts to re-establish a Thursday Market failed due to a lack of support. South Woodhamers seem to be content with their three supermarkets (Asda, Co-Op, Sainsburys), the Spar Shop which contains Greggs, One Stop, M&S Food at the BP Petrol Station and a handful of corner stores.

Further development in South Woodham Ferrers

Despite some opposition to the building of additional housing because of concerns about stretching the current resources, it seems that a new estate will be built on the northern side of the town on Bushey or Radar Hill, to the back and side of Sainsbury's Supermarket. 

The Sainsbury Supermarket

A new Sainsbury's Supermarket has been built on the north side of town on Burnham Road has now been open since 2019.  This large and spacious store store offers an optician and integral Argos. 

A BP petrol station with Marks and Spencer Food Shop was completed in late August 2017 and has proved to be a great success although it contributed to the closure of Steve's Garage which continues to trade with pet supplies.

KFC has been built adjoining the BP petrol station

South Woodham Ferrers has a drive-thru KFC adjacent to the BP Petrol Station.

Traffic concerns in South Woodham Ferrers arising from new developments

There have been numerous complaints about the new road layout at the Sainsbury’s junction. People are worried about being able to cross Burnham Road safely and large vehicles navigating the tight roundabout. It appears that there are several design flaws.

The traffic flow for the new roundabout is unconventional in that the right hand of two lanes approaching the roundabout is for right and straight on. This tends to cause a few problems when approaching from the east side because people unaware of the layout tend to use the left lane to go straight on and that is for turning left into Hullbridge Road only. The sound of car horns is fairly common in this area.

Concerns have arisen over the volume of traffic now leaving the BP site to join Willow Grove.  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

We have few social problems in South Woodham. It could be described as a fairly boring town. We don’t have many shops, no evening entertainment apart from the pubs and occasional event held in the Village Hall or Champions Manor. A minor earthquake on the 9th of February 2023 caused a small flurry of excitement. However, there are numerous clubs and activities for the very young and retired.

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.