By 2050 it is estimated that North Essex will grow by some 190,000 people.

We are living longer, we are staying in our homes for longer, we are having more children, and yes people migrate to North Essex because it’s a nice place to live.

That creates a conundrum when it comes to housing. We face a housing crisis. Across Essex, if current build rates continue, by 2036 we will have 77,000 too few homes. If we do not act, we risk creating a generation of ‘hidden homeless’, young people unable to ever think about purchasing their own home.

Nationally that the number of 18-30s now living in their parents’ homes has increased by 1.1 million, and that half of men aged 22-26 live with their parents, is something that should make us all sit up and take notice.

Of course, not building does not stop the demand, it just pushes up the price. It now costs over 8 times average earnings in the Braintree District or Colchester Borough to buy a home. It’s unsustainable and without action it’s only going to get worse.

But the other side of the coin is  that we must also continue to protect our green heritage, the very reason people want to raise their families in North Essex.  And of course we need to be conscious of the impact of homes on what are already stretched services and infrastructure.

For us, the solution to this conundrum is looking to move away from traditional developer led housing to doing something different.

The Garden Community project being explored by Braintree, Colchester, Tendring and Essex Councils is looking to build large scale stand-alone planned developments, built to a set of key principles and with a focus on creating thriving communities.

Developed in partnership with local people and businesses, their design will focus on what matters for people now and in the future, ensuring the right mix of housing, infrastructure and a focus on design quality.

It means looking at green technologies, innovation in construction and considering everything from waste collection to energy storage.

Our vision is to create communities which set the standard for how housing should be create.

You can join the conversation, give your thoughts and views by emailing or calling 0800 093 1678.