Essex Partnership Public Service Reform Portfolio

Housing and Public Sector Land

In mid-2013 the Essex Partnership Board identified an opportunity for public sector partners to work together to address housing need across the county of Essex. As a result a project was initiated to investigate how public sector land could be brought forward to meet general, affordable and specialist housing need.

The aims of the project, which are based on the view of all partners, are to:

  • create a financially sustainable model that
  • works with, and is funded by, partners to
  • releases public sector land and
  • builds additional specialist and affordable housing by
  • tales forward each site in a way that helps us meet the overall aims

Linking with the One Public Estate Programme funded by the Government Property Unit (GPU) the project identified a number of potential sites suitable for housing development. 

This pipeline of land has been developed working with partners including Braintree District Council, Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Fire and Rescue, Essex County Council, Essex Police, NHS, Rochford District Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, and Tendring District Council.

High level feasibility studies are underway for sites identified as suitable to meet the aims of the project.  If these are shown to be viable the next steps will be to confirm arrangements to finance develop and manage housing that meets local needs.

The project has been particularly innovative at identifying an alternative methodology to ‘best value' which is often simply interpreted to be market value.  A financial appraisal approach has been developed which looks beyond the maximum capital value that can be achieved and takes into account revenue savings that are achievable by developing housing that helps improve outcomes and reduce demand and costs elsewhere in the public sector.  A good example of this is property that is suitable for those with extra care needs who might otherwise find themselves in residential care because of a lack of appropriate housing that is tailored to their needs.  By building additional specialist housing residents will be able to live more independently and costs to public sector partners will be reduced.