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New Welsh household projections will shape debate on housing provision

Words: Roger Milne
Household projections

The Welsh Government has published revised local authority household projections to replace data based on 2011 figures. The latest data set is based on 2014 figures.

The new projections indicate that there will be 139,306 additional households living in Wales in 2039 compared with 2014, an increase of 11 per cent. Except for a nominal decrease in Powys (-2 per cent), all the 22 local authorities (excluding national parks) are expected to see household growth over the 25-year period. This increase ranges from 32 per cent in Cardiff to just 1 per cent in Blaenau Gwent.

Household growth in Wales looks set to continue its focus on the nation’s capital and its immediate hinterland. A third (34 per cent) of total expected household growth between 2014 and 2039 is expected to happen in Cardiff and 62 per cent in South East Wales. An additional 13 per cent of total growth is expected in Swansea.

Planning consultancies have stressed that these figures are a starting point for considering housing requirements in development plans.

Turley’s Gareth Barton said: “The projections are based on past trends and have therefore been influenced by a period of relative uncertainty and affordability issues. The new projections will evidently form an important consideration in the current cycle of plan-making, with several local development plans due to undertake a first review and a commitment to strategic development plans for certain urban areas.  

“While future plan-making should take account of the projections, it must also give full consideration to the ambition for positive economic growth across Wales as well as evidence of historic under-provision.

“The ambition for seeking a more positive future for the Welsh economy and its communities is captured, for example, by the recent signing of the Swansea Bay City Region Deal, which proposes a £1.3 billion investment and aims to support up to 33,000 jobs over a 15-year period,” he added.

Lichfield’s Stephanie Irvine also insisted that the new projections should come with a health warning because of the extent to which the projections could be distorted.

“They are based on data collected primarily during the recession years, which brought suppressed levels of household formation and reduced levels of housing delivery.

“This issue may necessitate an adjustment to the household formation rates contained within the latest projections to prevent a legacy of concealed households in response to a constrained supply of housing in the coming years.”

She added: “The projections are, of course, not the only consideration when planning for housing. Key issues such as the link between homes and jobs, the need for affordable housing, and the strategic direction for the plan must also be taken into account. Crucially, local authorities must grapple with the impacts of an ageing population – both in terms of providing suitable homes for the elderly and ensuring that there is a sufficient workforce to support local economies and fulfil aspirations for economic growth.”

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