Essex County Council Housing Strategy

Closes 26 May 2020

Opened 3 Mar 2020

Overview

Essex County Council Housing Strategy: Draft Consultation Summary Document

Proposed approach, goals and high-level actions for comment, February 2020

Vision and priorities

Housing matters to Essex County Council (ECC). We are signatories to the long-term aspirations for the county set out in the Vision for Essex, that includes the ambition to use the development of new homes over the next 20 years as an opportunity to enhance the County. Building on the things that make Essex a great place to live – our countryside, our coastline, our heritage – and working with local people, businesses and communities.

We have embedded this vision in our Organisation Strategy, making it a priority to facilitate growing, thriving communities, and good quality, environmentally friendly new homes. 

Housing goes well beyond new homes in growing communities. It underpins the council’s strategic priorities to enable economic growth, support older people with care needs and other vulnerable groups to live independently, reduce health inequalities and create great places to grow up live and work.

ECC is taking action on climate change as demonstrated by the setting up of the Essex Climate Change Commission. We want to promote new ways to reduce carbon emissions from housing and promote Green Infrastructure as part of new housing growth.

We are proposing to develop an ECC Housing Strategy to outline the actions we will take to achieve our strategic priorities and how we will work with our partners in the wider housing system.

The approach we are proposing is the result of many conversations with our partners and reflects the encouragement we have received for ECC to set out its own strategy and priorities on housing.

We welcome your views and engagement during this more formal consultation process before we work to produce a final strategy and action plan.

Working with partners

Ensuring the right numbers, types, affordability and quality of housing are provided across Essex relies on the cooperation of partners. Our Borough, City and District partners have statutory responsibilities for housing and local plan making, ensuring land is identified for housing in the right places. Housing Associations and Private Developers build homes across the county. Homes England are investing funding, land and expertise to support delivery on behalf of government. We work together through a wide range of partnerships, including the Housing Officer Groups in Essex and South Essex, Essex Developers Group and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Our role in housing

ECC plays an important part of the housing system in Essex, our roles include:

  • Planning, funding and delivering infrastructure to support housing delivery;
  • Working with borough, city and district partners and government on proposed garden communities, new settlements and locally led regeneration projects; 
  • Through Essex Housing as a developer of new open market, specialist and affordable homes on surplus public sector land, helping to meet housing need across the county;
  • Coordinating, commissioning and market shaping activity to ensure housing is available for vulnerable people and those with special requirements; and
  • Strategic coordination on crosscutting issues e.g. homelessness prevention, improving health and wellbeing, and integration support for resettled refugees.

We have an interest in seeing housing development that:

  • Supports economic growth. Housing that attracts investment, and supports new jobs and skills and training opportunities for local communities;
  • Protects and improves the environment. Ensuring that new homes and communities mitigate and adapt to climate change, support improved air quality, energy and water efficiency, waste and flood management and are designed to be low carbon; and
  • Promotes healthy places. Working with NHS partners on their workforce, estates and infrastructure planning to help bring forward NHS services alongside new development.

Our track record

We have an ambition to do more than the statutory minimum. We stand behind the ambitions of our partners for housing growth and reducing homelessness. We are well recognised as one of the leading county councils in the country on housing. Over the last five years we have worked to establish positive relationships with our housing partners and support their wider housing aims. We have invested in strong delivery capability exemplified in Essex Housing and a strategic Housing Growth Team. We have published the award-winning Essex Design Guide to improve new housing development, including new content on digital, health and wellbeing, the ageing population, and Garden Communities. In 2019 we played a key role in helping to secure over £317m of central government Housing Infrastructure Fund investment to benefit existing communities and deliver new infrastructure to enable housing growth in the county.

Our Housing Strategy

Our proposed strategy is a county council-owned document that closely links to those of our partners and sets out a coherent framework for our engagement with them. It will reinforce our focus on priority localities and identify opportunities for people to live well and independently of social care. It will set challenging goals and create a practical framework to guide action.

We don’t have all the answers and the purpose of this document is to share our emerging thinking with our partners and seek your views, before we develop a detailed action plan.

The goals of the strategy

The strategy will set out the broad housing challenges in Essex, but as an ECC-owned strategy we want to focus on areas where our expertise and resources can generate most value, not duplicate effort.  

We propose that the strategy should set out three goals for Essex County Council to achieve a Growing Essex while protecting the best of the county; Enabling people to live independently throughout their life; and Supporting people to have a stable home.

We encourage views through this consultation of how ECC could further assist in addressing these and other important housing issues in partnership with the organisations who are leading on this work

Give Us Your Views

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Organisations

Interests

  • Community initiatives
  • Community development
  • Environmental planning
  • Policy making