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The homes we need

Tyfu tai Cymru has launched new research looking at housing need and desirability. Cerys Clark reports on  the findings

How do we not only meet the overwhelming housing need in Wales but ensure we build homes that are desirable in communities where people want to live?

There is a conflict between the numbers-based assessment of housing need contained within local housing market assessments (LHMAs) and creating a desirable and sustainable home. This conflict is also influenced by the severe lack of supply of social homes in Wales that is reducing or removing choice for those households seeking to secure a social home to meet their needs. Yet choice is a vital part of tenancy sustainability: if households can access a home in a community of their choosing that supports their wellbeing, they are more likely to stay long term in the community building ties and supporting others.

Tenants involved in the research were clear that choice isn’t just about the point of allocation. They also want to be involved in the planning process and to ensure the homes that are built give a family enough space to live well within the home. This includes space for study, work, and for disabled tenants’ space for necessary equipment to be able to live independently.


Tenants also want the wider location of homes to feature more in planning new developments. Whilst a home may be accessible for medical needs, tenants are keen to highlight that this needed a wider scope. The home may be accessible for someone with medical needs but if it is on a hill with public transport access at the bottom, is the home truly accessible? There is also a need to consider how society is changing with the increasing need for access to electric car charging points, which are often difficult to install when the only parking is street parking. These things are key components of choice and not currently captured within the number-based assessment of housing need within local housing market assessments.

Registered social landlords, local authorities and other key stakeholders also highlighted the importance of achieving the right mix of homes and that communities and tenants should be part of these assessments. Some communities have a higher demand for multi-generational homes or homes that can change as the household ages. As such, there should also be a collaborative approach to how the homes developed are designed so they meet these requirements of tenants and ensure there enough space indoors and outside to enable the household to thrive.


This collaborative assessment of need is difficult to include in the way the LHMA is currently undertaken as it is a quantitative assessment of need. We also need a way to include qualitative data to ensure not only do we develop the right number of homes but also that those homes are the right size, the right type in the right place.

Even if the LHMA is changed to include qualatative data new developments are often faced with opposition from exisitng communites. Nobody would deny that addditional homes are needed but often the community does not want the development over concern of who will be moving in. In some cases this has had an impact on the time taken to approve planning decsions for new developments. Yet it is important to note that stakeholders highlighted that once the new households move in any oppostion dwindles away. The Tyfu Tai report is clear that we need to look at the stigma around social housing  and that by involving the whole community from the start we can work towards eradicating the stigma asscoiated with new developments.

The report recommends that community engagement becomes a mandated part of the social housing grant allocation process. By embedding community engagement we can ensure that communities are involved at every point of the planning process, and tackle any opposition early with an overall aim of eradicating stigma to social housing throughout Wales.


We cannot deny that Wales is in the midst of a housing crisis with significant demand for the limited supply of social homes. We need to increase supply of social homes in Wales, ensuring that the homes we build provide choice, are located in communities where people want to live and new developments are supported and welcomed by the community. We can only do this by working collaboratively and in partnership with our communities so that we can ensure everyone in Wales can access a home of their choosing, within a community of their choosing, that is suitable, safe, and affordable.


Cerys Clark is policy and public affairs manager at CIH Cymru

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