The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, officially opened the latest scheme of affordable housing for local people in Pandan Close, West Hanningfield on Monday 15 October. The 12 homes were completed last October after a Housing Needs Survey carried out by RCCE’s Rural Housing Enabler in 2005 identified local people in need of affordable accommodation.   With ground source heat pumps the homes are also energy efficient and cheaper to run. Three residents opened their doors to allow those attending the event to look around.

Hastoe Housing Association own and manage the scheme which received support from the Homes and Communities Agency and Chelmsford City Council. Eight of the properties are for rent and 4 for shared ownership with a mix of 1 bed flats, 1 & 2 bed bungalows and 2 & 3 bed houses. The Right to Buy is removed from the rented properties and shared ownership home residents are able to purchase a maximum of 80% of their home with the remaining 20% staying with Hastoe Housing Association. This ensures they remain affordable and for local people as priority in perpetuity.

Cllr Hutchinson, Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford, emphasised the City Council’s support for rural affordable housing in his speech and the Bishop of Chelmsford followed with  a story outlining the importance of ensuring local people have the ability to stay in the village they were brought up in to maintain social and historical networks as well as build the sustainability of rural communities.