Local Needs Affordable Housing

Our Rural Housing Enabling service works in partnership with communities, housing associations and local authorities to develop affordable housing in villages across the county. 

The viability of many of Kent’s rural communities relies on maintaining a balanced community that supports everyone living in it – children, young people, families and older residents alike. High property prices and the loss of social housing through Right to Buy legislation has meant that many people with connections to Kent’s villages are living in unsuitable and expensive accommodation or have been forced to leave in search of a suitable and affordable home elsewhere.

Developing affordable housing is one of the crucial issues that influences the economic and social strength of rural communities, and is a major contributor to long-term community sustainability.

Watch this 6 minute video – Affordable
Local Needs Housing

Housing Needs Surveys

To establish whether a need for affordable housing exists in a village and what size, type and tenure people need, we undertake housing needs surveys.  This can be the first step towards making a local needs scheme happen and engaging the community.  We analyse the results of the survey and make an assessment of need in accordance with local authority eligibility and allocation policies and Help to Buy criteria. 

The Rural Housing Enablers’ Network has produced the following document which provides a standard to which all housing needs surveys should adhere Housing Needs Survey Principles and Guidance 

Kent Rural Housing Protocol

A Guide to Developing Affordable Homes in Rural Communities is the updated Rural Housing Protocol and is a series of factsheets that sets out the pathway to enable affordable rural housing development; it offers guidance about the finance, who can and should be involved and expels the myths around who is allocated affordable rural homes.  The focus of the guide is to provide clear concise information for those who believe there is a need for affordable rural housing development within their local community.

The guide has been updated by the Housing Strategy and Enabling sub group to and on behalf of the Kent Housing Group.  The Kent Housing Group (KHG) recognise the need to ensure that there is sustainable development of affordable rural housing; within the County of Kent, 85% of the land is classed as rural and over 40% of the businesses in Kent are based in rural areas.

Baroness Warwick, Chair of the National Housing Federation has produced the Foreword for this protocol that can be found here

Another useful guide produced by the Rural Housing Alliance is Affordable Rural Housing; A practical guide for parish councils


The Rural Housing Enabler helps communities identify suitable sites for the development of local needs housing.  The type of sites generally used are exception sites; land that would not normally be permitted for open market development but an exception to normal planning policy can be made if there is a proven need for affordable housing from local people.  These sites tend to be found on the edge of the village where the homes would feel like a natural extension of the community. The land values are much lower than for commercial sites but above agricultural rates. We are always keen to hear from landowners who might want to sell land for the benefit of their community. 

How to apply for a local needs home?

Local needs housing is only available to people who have a local connection to the village in which the homes are built.  The local connection criteria varies in different local authority areas but includes length of time living in the parish, having previously lived in the parish, having immediate family members living in the parish and employment in the parish.  To apply for a home it is necessary to join your local authority’s housing register; you can do this at Kent Home Choice or by contacting your Local Authority directly (see below).  You should clearly state that you wish to be able to apply for a local needs home.

There are various housing associations that develop local needs housing in Kent; English Rural Housing Association have many such schemes and you can look for properties on their website and join their mailing list, but you will still need to apply to your Local Authorities housing register.  You should clearly state that you wish to be able to apply for a local needs home.  

For general housing advice and help contact Shelter or your local council’s housing department.  

Ashford Borough Council

Canterbury City Council

Dartford Borough Council

Dover District Council

Folkestone & Hythe District Council

Gravesham Borough Council

Maidstone Borough Council

Medway Council

Sevenoaks District Council

Swale Borough Council

Thanet District Council

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

For further information including how you can identify whether there is a need for affordable housing in your community contact Tessa O’Sullivan our Rural and Community Housing Manager on 01303 813790 or email tessa.osullivan@ruralkent.org.uk

For Community Led Housing, see the Kent Community Housing Hub which is hosted by us at Action with Communities in Rural Kent.


  • Email: info@ruralkent.org.uk
  • Phone: 01303 813790
  • Address: The Old Granary, Penstock Hall Farm, Canterbury Road,
    East Brabourne, Kent TN25 5LL