Rural Community Council of Essex
PUBLISHED: 10:26 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013
Your monthly update of news and views from the Rural Community Council of Essex
Villagers need not fear new homes
DEVELOPMENT in the countryside is always an emotive topic. Even small-scale schemes to provide affordable housing in villages have faced rigorous opposition on occasions but the benefits of such schemes have been highlighted in a recent evaluation carried out in north-west Essex by Uttlesford District Council.
The survey looked at the impact of six completed schemes in the district taking on board the views of the tenants, the parish councils involved and residents living alongside the schemes. A survey of the tenants showed that the schemes really have succeeded in enabling young people to remain in the community where they have their roots. They have delivered economic benefits by providing homes for people employed locally and they have
been genuinely affordable for people on low incomes. The survey also
showed that the tenants are supporting village services and playing a
part in local village life.
All of the parish councils involved were pleased with the design of the new homes and particularly at the way they blended in with traditional local design features. They were also strongly of the opinion that the key to success was full consultation with the local community via the parish council at every stage of the process. The parish councils were also insistent that such homes must be available only for local people.
The views of residents living in adjoining properties are particularly interesting. One-fifth of respondents admitted that they hadn't been in favour of their local scheme before it was built, but almost three-quarters of these same respondents now agreed that the developments had been a success and had been fully integrated into the community.
The overriding conclusion appears to be that investment in affordable rural housing schemes in Uttlesford is working and is delivering real benefits not just for the householders but for the wider community. The evaluation also endorses the positive approach Uttlesford District Council has
shown on this issue.
RCCE works closely with local authorities like Uttlesford and provides a Rural Housing Enabler service which can help rural communities throughout Essex provide small-scale affordable housing schemes to meet local needs.
Trees target is topped
CONGRATULATIONS to all the parish councils, village hall committees, parochial church councils and other community groups that were successful in receiving plants through the Essex Tree Initiative. RCCE was one of the partners contracted by Essex County Council to deliver the project which aimed to get 250,000 new trees planted across the county within a year. RCCE's target of allocating 25,000 trees was successfully achieved by March 2009 with more than 50 individual parishes benefitting from the scheme. The new trees are all now in the ground and hopefully flourishing.
In keeping with the spirit of the project, many parishes organised successful volunteer planting days, with local residents including schools and youth groups lending a hand in the planting. All of the trees and hedging have been planted on land which is publicly accessible thereby ensuring a lasting benefit for the local community.
Waiting for a bus?
TRANSPORT, or frequently the lack of it, is often a hot issue in many rural communities. Essex County Council and RCCE have just produced a new guide designed specifically to help rural communities in Essex with transport problems. The flow chart-style Guide to Requesting a Bus Service will help individuals and parish councils follow a structured process to identify a bespoke solution to the particular needs of their community. The guide can be accessed on the RCCE website.