Affordable homes for local people

It is widely recognised that those living on low or modest incomes in rural communities face real difficulties when trying to find a home of their own within a village. Reasons for this are many, such as;

  • Right to Buy enabled council house tenants to purchase their home at a discount without these homes being replaced.
  • Loss of tied accommodation as agriculture becomes more mechanised.
  • High house prices and low wages in rural areas. With the average price of £385k, Essex is the 10th most pricey county out of 55 England and Wales' counties. The median property price to median earnings ratio is ranging between 8.3 in Tendring and 12 in Epping Forest. I.e. A Tendring resident with middle-income needs 8.3 gross annual salaries to buy a medium-priced property. Residents in Epping Forest need 12 annual salaries. The England and Wales ratio was 7.7 in 2019.
  • Gentrification where small houses are extended reducing the number of first time buyer properties that are available.
  • Restricted supply of suitable sites.

'My Village My Home' - Affordable rural housing, helping to build communities.

This video features key members of the community and residents talking about what affordable housing for local people has meant to them.

Rural Housing Enabler Service

It is not always apparent that there is a demand for affordable housing within a particular area or what the benefits of developing a small scheme for local people will bring in terms of helping to sustain local service. Rural affordable housing can benefit a huge range of different people within a community, from those wishing to make their first step onto the housing ladder to those wishing to downsize.

At RCCE we believe communities have the power to influence change. We provide guidance and information to help in planning a thriving & sustainable future.

In the case of affordable housing the Rural Housing Enabler (RHE) can act as an independent advisor providing impartial assistance in developing affordable and community led housing for people with a local connection and will work with and on behalf of rural communities to address the shortage of affordable homes within the Parish. The work undertaken involves identifying the local need for housing as a starting point, usually via a housing needs survey of every home in the Parish.

To listen to our Rural Housing Enabler discussing the service, click here.

Click here for an Introduction to the RHE Service

Housing Needs Survey

The process for Housing Needs Surveys for Parish Councils

To establish whether a need for affordable housing exists in a village and what size, type and tenure people need, RCCE's RHE will work closely with the Parish Council to undertake a housing needs survey. This is a questionnaire which is distributed to each household in the parish asking for details on their current and future housing need. Establishing what your local housing need is will enable your parish to ensure that as a community you are able to plan ahead for future housing provision for those with a strong local connection, should a need be identified. In Essex we are seeing parishes on the second or third scheme as their first proved so successful. We have also conducted housing needs surveys for Neighbourhood Development Plans, helping them influence local connection priority on their more strategic developments.

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss affordable housing and housing needs surveys in more detail and to answer any questions that may arise. To find out more, please contact Laura Atkinson, the Rural Housing Enabler, on either 01376 574330 or by e-mail at


The National Housing Federation have just released a new Guide for Parish Councils and their Councillors, on Rural Affordable Housing which will be useful to review. This details an outline of the options and processes for delivering more quality affordable housing for local people within your parish

Landowners who are interested in supporting communities deliver rural affordable housing by releasing small pockets of land, please review this guide as a starting point.


Rural Affordable Housing Options from June 2020

ACRE Blog - Without affordable housing, rural communities are at risk of becoming lifeless, dormitory settlements 

Case Studies


Wickham Bishops


With affordable rural housing an issue that many villages are currently concerned about,  Parish Councillors are invited to contact Laura Atkinson, Rural Housing Enabler at RCCE on 01376 574330, or email if this is an issue in their village for support.

Recent Reports

Link to Partners

Defra (Rural Social and Community Programme)

Essex County Council

Braintree District Council

Chelmsford District Council

Colchester District Council

Tendring District Council

English Rural Housing Association

Hastoe Housing Association

Epping Forest District Council

Uttlesford District Council

Chelmer Housing Partnership Housing Association

Eastlight Community Homes Housing Association

Eastern Community Homes (CLH HUB)