Chelmsford’s housing provision is failing to deliver for too many people and the City Council is aiming to address that with a new strategy.
In common with many places across south-east England, Chelmsford has a housing crisis – covering availability and affordability. The new strategy, adopted by the City Council’s Cabinet on 15 March, will improve the provision of affordable and specialist housing over the next five years.
The Chelmsford Housing Strategy 2022 – 2027 outlines the need for a better supply of homes for those who are homeless or living in accommodation that is unsuitable.
This means increasing the supply of genuinely affordable homes (including for social rent) and improving the provision of private rented accommodation.
The Strategy sets out the Council’s vision
To address the housing needs of all Chelmsford residents so everyone can reasonably aspire to having a home that meets their needs.
Aims of the five-year strategy
A higher number (and a better mix of sizes) of affordable homes will help reduce the number of people waiting to be housed or in temporary accommodation. A particular focus is the past failure of the planning process to deliver enough three- and four-bedroom affordable homes for rent.
The vision is supported by six strategic priorities
· Increasing the supply of affordable homes with a focus on larger units.
· Increasing the supply of affordable homes from the existing housing stock.
· Supporting landlords and tenants of privately rented homes.
· Enabling the right supply of specialist housing to meet local need.
· Developing effective partnerships.
· Monitoring trends and performance to inform future actions.
The five-year outlook contains a number of actions, identifying additional opportunities to provide new affordable homes, improving the supply by helping people down-size into more suitable homes and working with other agencies such as health and social care to improve the options for those who need support as well as housing. The council will continue to work with local housing associations and develop new partnerships to deliver these actions.
The private rented sector is the second most common type of tenure in Chelmsford, offering an option for some on lower incomes. Supporting this sector is necessary to help manage the demand for affordable housing.
Meeting the needs of the city’s ageing population is also a major challenge. This can include a range of options, from helping people remain in their homes to demand for very specialist provision, which is part of health and care commissioning rather than housing.
The strategy will stand alongside the council’s homelessness and rough sleeping strategy.
Keeping our partners and residents informed
The council will work with partners to make best use of land, properties, funding, and expertise.
Importantly, it wants to keep partners and residents, who responded so positively to its consultation, informed and involved about the changes in the need for and supply of affordable and specialist housing in Chelmsford.
“In the past two years we have prioritised ending rough sleeping and now no-one needs to sleep rough in Chelmsford. But we still face many challenges and we have a clear and ambitious vision: everyone deserves accommodation that meets their needs. This strategy spells out actions we will take to turn our vision into reality.”Cllr Stephen Robinson, Leader of the Council
“The City Council has already begun to make changes to support a new approach. This includes stronger partnerships, seeking larger affordable houses from some strategic sites, and applying to become an investment partner with Homes England, sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up and Communities.
“Good housing for everyone is at the forefront of our priorities. Key to progress will be imaginative and wider collaboration with registered providers, local community groups, housing developers, government agencies and other local authorities. The strategy heralds further progress in our housing provision.”Cllr Graham Pooley, Cabinet Deputy for Affordable Housing
On 22 February, Chelmsford City Council voted to declare a housing crisis and called on the Government to do more.