Please note: This topic has been prioritised for further research.
Good housing provides shelter, security, space for family life and activities, privacy, personal identity and development. It is a keystone of individual and community wellbeing. In its 2021 report, Future Wales – The National Plan 2040, Welsh Government recognises that good housing is:
an essential part of a successful neighbourhood and local community. Good design can help to create a positive appearance and make provision for or help to ensure – accessible links to shops, schools, other local facilities, open space and the countryside and employment opportunities.
essential to allow employees to move to areas where jobs exist. Investment in housing also generates substantial employment,
critical to household income; housing which is ‘affordable’ – that which does not present an excessive burden on household income – reduces the risk of poverty and financial hardship.
In his forward, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS states:
“For the past year our attention has focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic – the severest public health crisis of our lifetime. Amongst the tragedy has emerged a widespread understanding and appreciation of how important the places where we live are to our quality of life.”
“The next twenty years will be a critically important period as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and face the challenges of global climate and biodiversity emergencies. During this time we will build many thousands of new homes, invest in our town centres and generate the energy we need to support our communities and industries. Future Wales will ensure we do so in a sustainable way that responds positively to the challenges we face.
By 2040, our population structures will change, the way we work and the places we live in will adapt, and the way we travel will have been transformed. Planning for these changes is challenging but also an exciting task, filled with opportunities to make Wales a better place – healthier, more resilient, more prosperous, more equal and more environmentally responsible. I am confident we have the people, resources and ambition to work together and build a better future.”
The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) report Measuring National Well-being: Where We Live identifies a strong link between life satisfaction and housing satisfaction across the UK. Of those reporting low satisfaction with their accommodation nearly half reported low satisfaction with their life.
Conwy County Borough contains around 57,850 dwellings to support a population of 117,200. Denbighshire contains around 43,550 dwellings to support a population of 95,700.
In the year ending March 2019, only 434 new homes were built in the area (310 in Conwy County Borough, 124 in Denbighshire), despite their Local Development Plans (LDPS) predicting an annual new dwelling requirement of about 950 across the two local authority (this figure increased to 439 in the year ending March 2021, however, which is a significant increase). This suggests a significant under provision of new housing, and is in part due to the contraction of the construction industry since the global economic downturn of 2008.
As part of their planning duties, Local Authorities also have a specific requirement to provide affordable housing, and the total provision of new dwellings is so low there is a serious risk that this duty is not being met.
Denbighshire’s 2019 Local Housing Market Assessment identified an annual affordable housing need of 155 additional households a year (2018 – 2023). The Local Development Plan identified a newly arising need for help with affordable housing (both social and intermediate) of between 150-200 additional households a year. Although it should be noted that the Local Development Plan is under review and these targets should be treated with caution.
Conwy County Borough’s 2013 Local Housing Market Assessment identified an annual need of 123 and this is expected to increase when the updated LHMA is published in late 2016, as pressures around housing continue to grow due to supply not keeping pace with demand.
This combined estimate of around 275-325 households in need of help to find affordable housing each year – whilst not solely about new build requirement – almost matches the total provision of all new dwellings in the last year. Ideally, given thresholds outlined in Local Development Plans, the affordable requirement would be about 20-30% of the new build total. A level closer to 100% is not deliverable.
In August 2021, the average house price for a property in Conwy County Borough was £202,485. In Denbighshire it was £181,538. An annual increase of 19.1% in Conwy County Borough and 14.2% in Denbighshire.
In Conwy County Borough the average house price is currently 6.8 times the average household income of £29,450 and 11.7 times the lower quartile household income of £17,200.
In Denbighshire the average house price is currently 6.4 times the average household income of £28,100 in and 11.1 times the lower quartile household income of £16,300.
This suggests that entering the housing market as a home owner is well out of the reach of the average household. At this point, we would like to flag that we will be revisiting these analyses to address some weaknesses in our methodology. Averages can be chronically wrong due to the highs and lows of the figures calculated, and so in future, we would prefer to use the median. Average house prices are not reliable, especially in a buoyant housing market as we are currently experiencing.
Furthermore, it is important to set these figures and analyses into the context of the pandemic and the knock on effect that it has had in the housing market and the ‘race for space’ alongside the Stamp Duty holiday, although it is expected that the ability to work remotely will still affect people’s housing choices.
Office for National Statistics research has identified three groups most likely to have the poorest personal well-being. These are unemployed or inactive renters with self-reported health problems or a disability; employed renters with self-reported health problems or a disability and retired homeowners with self-reported health problems or a disability.
 March 2020 dwelling stock estimates, Welsh Government & 2019 mid-year population estimates, Office for National Statistics
 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies; Conwy County Borough Council, Denbighshire Council, Snowdonia National Park Authority, Welsh Government, Planning Inspectorate
House prices have risen considerably since 2001, even taking into account the slowdown in the housing market that was seen after the 2007/08 recession. In February 2021, house prices were about a 30-40% higher than they were in 2011 (wages increased by about 15-20% in the same period). February 2021 house prices were over three times higher than they were in 2001 (about 320-330% higher) though wages only increased by about 50-60%. In 2001, the ratio of average wage to house price in the area was about 2.9-3.8. This compares to 6.6-6.8 in 2021.
Household growth projections used by both counties’ Local Development Plans were based on have not been realised. The projections were based on a period of buoyant economic performance when populations were very mobile and this was projected forward. The global economic decline in 2009 onwards has had a dramatic effect on reducing the mobility of the population and on in-migration rates into North Wales. For the replacement Local Development Plans, growth rates will be less than half of that in current Plans based on latest Welsh Government projections. The 2008-based projections, on which current Local Development Plans were based, predicted an increase of 8,350 households over 15 years. The 2018-based projections predict household growth of 700 – 2,200 households over 15 years.
 Source: Land Registry house price index. An index is a way of measuring relative change over time. If the average house price at April 2000 is taken to be 100, the index shows how prices have changed since that date. For example, an index of 150 means the current price is one and a half times what it was at the start of the index period.
Household growth projections used by both counties’ Local Development Plans were based on have not been realised. The projections were based on a period of buoyant economic performance when populations were very mobile and this was projected forward. The global economic decline in 2009 onwards has had a dramatic effect on reducing the mobility of the population and on in-migration rates into north Wales. For the replacement Local Development Plans, growth rates will be less than half of that in current Plans based on latest Welsh Government projections. The 2008-based projections, on which current Local Development Plans were based, predicted an increase of 8,350 households over 15 years. The 2018-based projections predict household growth of 700 – 2,200 households over 15 years.
By far the biggest factor affecting the number of households and average household size in the future is the expected growth in the number of single person households. This is not a trend which is unique to Conwy County Borough and Denbighshire, but its effect is more pronounced here because of the relatively high number of older people in the population of the area.
Most single person households are pensioners living alone. In 2019 there were 9,500 lone pensioner households Conwy County Borough and 6,600 in Denbighshire – this was 17% of all households, and 51% of all single person households. As life expectancy increases and the large post-World War II baby-boomer generation reaches pension age we can expect to see the number of lone pensioner households increase. Welsh Government’s latest household projections suggest the number of lone pensioner households in Conwy and Denbighshire will increase by over 3,100 by 2043.
Other factors which have led to smaller average household sizes over past decades have been the trends towards smaller family size and the increase in the number of family break-downs. These trends are expected to continue.
The trend towards smaller households may also be an indicator of the type of housing that needs to be built. In particular, the provision of housing that will be suitable to meet the needs of older age groups needs to be considered. However, this may be a relatively short – medium term issue. Once the “Baby Boomers” move out of the population, the proportion of older people in the profile will decrease. There will still be a need for older persons housing but the supply will not need to increase continually.
If the need for additional housing continues to outstrip the rate at which extra provision is provided, then there will be an ever increasing back-log of unmet need which will have to be provided for at some stage, as well as all newly arising need. This is likely to put additional pressure on an already overpriced housing market.
Issues around affordability may in part be addressed by simple supply-demand economics. If more houses, of the right type, are built then the upward pressure on house prices caused by a demand that outstrips supply will be relieved.
The condition of the existing housing stock is also an issue that has risen in prominence in recent years. In particular, there are a range of issues around energy efficiency and potential carbon emissions, physical accessibility and the general condition of pre-1914 housing stocks (particularly stone built properties) that we find in many of our rural areas, and concentrated in some of our Victorian/Edwardian coastal resorts.
Beautiful Homes & Spaces, the Welsh Development Requirement Standards for Affordable Housing (And PPW 11) address affordable housing standards and low carbon requirements for the future of housing. The Welsh Government target to build 20,000 Low Carbon affordable homes by 2026 is on track and the national Low Carbon Delivery Plan has measures on existing buildings and housing stock. It also refers to the Building Part L Regulations, which have been increasing the requirements of housing stock to meet higher energy efficiency standards- particularly focussed on the rented sector. Notwithstanding these developments, the scale of the challenge for householders is great. Rising gas prices, inefficient housing stock, existing and potentially growing fuel poverty and particular challenges in rural areas, leaves some doubt as to the resilience of householders – of all tenures – in the future.
Though it is currently too soon to know what the long-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic may be, we can speculate that there may be changes in some of the societal structures and behaviours that affect this issue. These include:
the immediate impacts on housing security that may arise for households that have seen reductions in income/loss of employment due to the pandemic as the moratoria on repossession actions, mortgage payment holidays and other temporary housing support measures are withdrawn.
the impacts a possible post-pandemic economic recession may have on affordability for residents, and on an already under-delivering house building industry.
the impact on housing costs if home-working opportunities encourage relocation from outside the area (increased demand may push up prices).
changes to housing standards, or expectations of what a decent home should provide which arise as a result of people’s experiences during the pandemic. These may include issues around the adaptability of homes for office/homeworking and the general need for more space for family living; access to outdoor spaces (both individual gardens and within the wider neighbourhood); proximity to services and facilities when movement is restricted; fuel efficiency; access to new technology through the home environment.
 People aged 65 and over living alone. Source: mid year household estimates, Welsh Government
 2018-base household projections (principal projection), Welsh Government
Housing support for young people was discussed at length by people; some of whom feel that rental accommodation is becoming unaffordable. They want to see improved access to good quality affordable housing, including social housing. Redevelopment of empty properties, including repurposing spaces that are no longer used (e.g. office space, dwellings above shops), in place of building new homes could be an opportunity. This could also mitigate people’s concerns that the space between towns and villages is reducing as new housing developments are built.
Homelessness is seen as a factor in deprivation and so too housing quality. Poor housing has been highlighted by people as having a causal relationship with lower life expectancy.
Disadvantaged groups most likely to be in poorer housing, and more priced-out of open market. To be picked up by research projects. See also ‘Supporting people in housing need’.
The impact of Covid-19 on housing, and its implications for health and well-being, is a gap that will require closer examination.
Office for National Statistics research has identified three groups most likely to have the poorest personal well-being, and it suggests interventions should be targeted towards these groups:
Unemployed or inactive renters with self-reported health problems or a disability
Employed renters with self-reported health problems or a disability
Retired homeowners with self-reported health problems or a disability
To what extent are the well-being needs of these groups being met?
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.