Housing Horizons: Establishing the Challenge

It’s easy to talk about what we’d like to do in the future. It’s much harder to work out if those aspirations will be the right things, or even feasible things, to do. CHC is up for the challenge though, and Housing Horizons is an exciting opportunity for housing associations in Wales to look to the future in a creative and informed way.

Savills has supported this project by collating information on the demographic, social and economic factors that are likely to affect housing supply and services in 2036. It paints an interesting picture of what might happen. We can expect to see:

  • A shift in the profile of the population and of households that make up that population
  • Significant need for new homes that runs far ahead of current annual output
  • Sustained need for affordable housing and financial help to meet housing costs
  • Challenges relating to an ageing housing stock
  • Reduction in skills and experience of the workforce alongside loss of employment for people in some sectors and difficulty accessing newly created better paid roles.

This projected context has a number of implications for housing associations in terms of taking opportunities, protecting ability to provide homes, supporting communities and furthering social objectives. Housing associations could usefully think about how to:

  • Plan for the expectations and support requirements of a growing population of older people
  • Increase housing supply, particularly of one and two bedroom properties, with a strong focus on Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham and Newport
  • Remodel existing supply to better match local need and avoid income loss, with a good understanding of local trends and needs
  • Address maintenance and accessibility challenges arising in older housing stock
  • ‘Mind the skills gap’ in their roles as an employer and community anchor, for example by taking action to retain skilled employees preparing to leave the workforce and invest in people beginning their careers or needing to change career.

Predicting the future is an inexact science, but current trends give a fair idea what might happen. Taking heed now, thinking constructively and starting to act should put housing associations in a much better position to make a valuable and realistic contribution to future housing and community needs.

Abigail Davies
Associate Director with Savills and author of the Housing Horizons data resource