Rural Housing Enabling Service

Action in rural Sussex employs a Rural Housing Enabling team which provides expert support and independent advice to Parish Councils and rural communities on the provision of affordable housing for local people.

This service has helped to deliver hundreds of homes for local people across rural parts of East and West Sussex since its inception and has focused on following a standardised 10 step process: 10 Step Guide to Developing Affordable HousingRuralHousing4

Housing schemes may be delivered through a variety of means, including via an Exception Site, which – crucially – allows for small schemes of affordable housing (through shared ownership or rental models) to be delivered for those with a local connection to the village in perpetuity.

We currently have an active work programme in both East and West Sussex and are working in partnership with specialist rural housing associations such as Hastoe Housing Association, English Rural Housing AssociationSaxon Weald and Raglan.


There is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in rural England and Sussex is certainly no exception to this, with properties in many areas costing well in excess of 10 times the average county income.

These trends can make rural areas places which are unaffordable for those in  occupations such as nurses, teachers and farm workers. The in-migration of affluent commuters and retirees may create an imbalance in rural communities as young people, families and those on low incomes cannot afford the inflated house prices.

Key services and facilities including pubs, shops and schools may struggle to remain viable as the needs of the population change. Similarly, communities may lose their vibrancy as they become dormitories for those working elsewhere, lead to the breakdown of social and family networks as  people cannot afford to live locally and traditional activities such as sports teams struggle for participants.

Our Role

The key functions of the Rural Housing Enabling team are to:

  • Meet the needs of those people who would not be able to afford accommodation on the open market;
  • Act as an “honest broker” to facilitate the often lengthy and complex process of developing affordable and mixed development housing schemes in rural areas to promote sustainable communities;
  • Work closely with village communities, Parish Councils, District Councils, Housing Associations, landowners and anyone else involved in the process of providing local needs housing;
  • Identify local affordable housing needs through Housing Needs Surveys;
  • Undertake site identification and appraisals;
  • Assess broader housing needs within rural communities such the need for older people to downsize to smaller properties as well as a range of intermediate market needs;
  • Carry out research and policy analysis  on rural housing issues.

Community Land Trusts

Another mechanism to deliver affordable housing for local people in rural areas is to establish a Community Land Trust (CLT). These are not-for-profit community-based organisations that develop housing or other assets at permanently affordable levels for long-term community benefit.

We have set up a Sussex CLT Umbrella Project which provides support to newly forming groups and those seeking to become established, for more information on this please click here.

Contact Us

For further information about any aspect of the Rural Housing Enabling service please contact:

Tom Warder
Housing & Community Engagement Team Leader
Tel: (01273) 407302 E-mail:

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”