Affordable Rural Housing in Essex

It can take several years to bring an affordable rural housing scheme to the stage of an official opening. So it is always exciting when an invite arrives and already this year we have seen two affordable housing schemes officially opened in Essex; one in Wickham Bishops and one in Little Hallingbury. These two schemes were highlighted at RCCE’s recent AGM and here we take a closer look at the developments.

Wickham Bishops

11th April was a memorable day for the village of Wickham Bishops as HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of English Rural Housing Association, joined residents, parish councillors, civic dignitaries and other guests to perform the official opening of Mackmurdo Place, an innovative new housing development for local people.

The Wickham Bishops scheme, developed by English Rural, one of the leading providers of affordable rural housing across the country, was initiated by the Parish Council with support from RCCE and the backing of Maldon District Council. It takes its name from Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, well known as an architect and writer in the early part of the 20th century, who lived locally and who in 1929 founded RCCE.

RCCE’s Rural Housing Enabler service supported project initialling through facilitating a local housing needs survey on behalf of the parish council, to identify the specific housing needs of the local community, and with the support of a local landowner, a particularly ambitious ‘Village Homes – Something for Everyone’ model was developed. This scheme provides 12 attractive new affordable homes for local people including flats and bungalows, available both for rent and affordable home ownership. In turn these are part of a larger development which also includes 15 market homes, marketed initially at local households only.

A feature of the scheme is that it has been delivered without any public subsidy, some open market properties have been sold below market value (in perituity)  and the affordable homes have been made available at lower then market rent with planning restrictions to ensure that local people with a connection to Wickham Bishops have priority to live in them. 


Little Hallingbury

On Friday 18th May Kemi Badenoch MP, officially opened a new Hastoe Housing Association affordable housing scheme in Little Hallingbury, Essex. Hastoe is another leading provider of affordable rural homes across the country and is well known for exceptional energy efficiency standards in its homes.

As with Wickham Bishops the starting point was the parish council working with RCCE’s Rural Housing Enabler service, to identify whether there was indeed a need for housing for local people. RCCE facilitated a local housing needs survey and, with the support of the parish and district council and local landowner, Hastoe was chosen to develop a scheme of 16 homes that matched the needs of the local community. Thirteen of these homes are affordable rent and three shared ownership – and the development includes a mixture of bungalows and houses, all based on the identified need and for people who live or work in the local area.

This scheme included shared ownership properties; this form of affordable housing can often enable local people on lower incomes (but with a deposit) to get a foot on the housing ladder in their local area, which would not have been possible without this development. Ownership is capped at 80%, enabling future availability of these affordable homes to other families.  

As part of the opening celebration, a fruit tree was planted in the grounds of Pond Fields Close.  

If you are interested in learning more about the possibilities of affordable housing for local people in your parish please contact Laura Atkinson in the first instance; or tel: 01376 574330