Essex faces an affordable home ‘crisis’

Essex is facing an affordable homes crisis.

Essex is facing an affordable homes crisis. - Credit: PA

North Essex is facing a chronic shortage of affordable rented homes according to figures published today.

More than 13,500 households are on housing registers in Colchester, Tendring, Braintree, Chelmsford and Maldon districts.

The figures were released by Colne housing association ahead of Housing Day, being marked today.

In Colchester 3,781 households are on a waiting list, with 1,238 in Tendring and 2,307 in Braintree. Chelmsford is facing an even greater problem with 5,100 households on the list.

The National Housing Federation estimates the East of England could face a shortfall of 300,000 homes by 2031 because not enough new properties are being built.

Tim Young, chairman of Colne, said: “There are a number of reasons why we are in this position. Affordability of land in the area, and developers not wanting to develop anything during the economic crisis, have added to the backlog.

“But now things are coming on stream and we need to help where we can.

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“There is an onus on private developers. During the recession you could understand the argument that they could not afford to provide affordable homes but now the sector has to get tough on developers.

“If they want to develop here because it is where people want to live then part of their responsibility is to provide that housing too – if they don’t then there are plenty of others who will be prepared to. We need to start playing hardball. It won’t be good enough to argue they can’t afford it, that has gone now the economy has started to recover.

“Mixed development has long been the desire

To help address the problem Colne has committed to building 750 homes in the next five years, while local authorities including Colchester and Tendring are building their first council homes in many years and adding housing forecasts into their local plans.

Carlo Guglielmi, Tendring district councillor for planning, said yesterday: “It is really time to think outside of the box.

“We have a planning application before us tonight for 150 homes in Lawford, and as part of the community contribution for that we have asked that eight houses be put into a trust.

“These will be of the same standard as market housing but will be for young people with a link to Lawford, and after three years they will be given back a proportion of their rent to help with a deposit on buying a home on the development.

“We would like to see this sort of scheme rolled out across Essex.

“Housing providers such as Colne do a fantastic job to plug the gap.”