Essex Housing – seeking to innovate and deliver housing differently

5th June 2019

Like most public bodies, the public sector in Essex is under increasing pressure to generate cash returns, income and revenue savings to pay for vital services. Mindful of this challenge, and against the backdrop of a national housing crisis and a pipeline of surplus public sector land for development, Essex Housing was established in 2016.

The Essex Housing team, who were shortlisted for the 2018 Inside Housing ‘Development Team of the Year Award’ and most recently ‘Highly Commended’ at the UK Housing Awards 2019 for ‘Council of the Year’, undertakes full end-to-end development of sites.  This includes feasibility analysis, progressing detailed and technical design and all due diligence investigations, submitting and securing planning permissions, clearing existing sites, tendering, appointing and monitoring contractors for the build phase and undertaking scheme sales and marketing activity for all units.

In just three years, the team have progressed a number of successful developments working closely with partners across Local Government, Health, Police and Fire.  The developments being progressed will provide 700 new homes, a gross development value (GDV) of £147m and annual revenue savings for Essex County Council through specialist accommodation of over £1m.  Of these units 30% are for Independent Living for Older People (Extra Care) and 7% to support those with Learning Disabilities to live independently. 

In October 2018, Goldlay Square, the first major scheme developed by the team, achieved practical completion and sales for the scheme are now nearly complete.  This exceptional scheme of 32 apartments; 23 private and 9 independent living units, was shortlisted for the Inside Housing Development Award for the Best Development (under 70 units) and has been widely referenced in national publications.



Before and after of Goldlay Square.

The outcome of an Essex Housing development is not just a financial receipt. The value of the development to public sector partners can be looked at in a variety of ways and that is why the team developed its bespoke Value Model.  Public sector partners using the Essex Housing Value Model can consider the wider holistic value of land for development rather than selling it outright on the open market. Essex Housing’s use of this model achieves more out of each scheme than just a capital receipt, it makes the county a better place for its residents to live and provides value to the public purse in a way that other organisations cannot.

Essex Housing have worked closely with government through the One Public Estate programme to develop a pipeline of land suitable for development. This was carried out through locality reviews working with partners across the county and the East of England.  The current pipeline of sites includes: 

Moulsham Lodge, Chelmsford 

26 units including 8 for learning disability 

Rocheway, Rochford Phase 1 

14 units  

Rocheway, Rochford Phase 2 

60 independent living units 

Coppins Court, Tendring 

60 independent living units 

Hillhouse, Epping Forest 

60 independent living units 

Shernbroke, Epping Forest 

Circa 14 private units and 10 units for learning disability 

Purford Green, Harlow 

Circa 24 units including 11 affordable 

Essex County Hospital, Colchester 

Circa 108 units 

St Peter’s, Chelmsford 

Circa 223 units including 60 independent living  


This has been an exciting year for Essex Housing, with the first units being completed and sold, we are now at the start of an extensive programme which we expect to catalyse other Councils to take this approach to housing development and make a real difference to the lives of residents.

If you have any questions or would like further information please contact Gwyn Owen, Head of Essex Housing at

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