Why are young people omitted from plans for new housing?

The key piece of research commissioned by local authorities, to inform their local core plans and housing strategies, is the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) often commissioned every three years.

The DCLG state the primary objective of identifying need (via the SHMA) is to:

  • identify the future quantity of housing needed, including a breakdown by type, tenure and size;
  • identify the future quantity of land or floorspace required for economic development uses including both the quantitative and qualitative needs for new development; and
  • provide a breakdown of that analysis in terms of quality and location, and to provide an indication of gaps in current land supply.

I’ve had a look at a number of SHMAs and few, if any, adequately evidence the housing needs of young people in shared housing or set out the future demand for shared accommodation, with most references of HMOs relating to student housing.

Given that single people make up the biggest demographic in London and many other conurbations; SHMAs fail to identify the numbers of single people having to stay at their parental home or live in shared housing/HMOs. Most young people, in many parts of England, on low to average earnings can only afford shared housing,  let alone groups, such as Millennials, who are choosing this model (an example being the rise of Co-Living initiatives).  I am looking to make my own contribution to this market, with purpose built, well designed HMOs charging rents that young people on low incomes can afford.

Rather than see private landlords and financial institutions lead the market with either poor quality, unsafe shared houses, expensive Co-Living schemes, or accept the demonization of all HMO’s, but let’s instead strategically plan and fund the shared housing market. It would make a significant contribution to meeting the housing need of young people and be a credible homelessness prevention solution without the need of much public subsidy. Let social finance, institutional investment and local authority funding, be utilised to meet the housing need of young people currently forgotten by the private rented sector, HCA/GLA and Registered Housing Provider sector.

Shared housing is here to stay and it needs to be planned strategically, both its growth and regulation. This starts with sound data and more intelligent SHMAs.


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