North Tyneside is located in the North East of England and is part of the Tyne and Wear City region. It borders Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the west, and Northumberland to the north. To the south, the River Tyne separates North Tyneside from South Tyneside, with coastline to the east. The borough is mainly urban with four large town centres: Whitley Bay, North Shields, Wallsend and Killingworth. North Tyneside’s housing market links to a wider market that includes Newcastle, South East Northumberland, and the rest of Tyne and Wear.
North Tyneside Council was seeking an experienced and qualified consultant to undertake a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) for North Tyneside. The requirement of the study was derived from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which states the council must have a clear understanding of housing needs in North Tyneside.
The overall research project was to inform the production of the Local Development Framework and Housing Strategy. It was also to ensure that Development Plan Documents (DPDs) were based on a robust and credible evidence base. The final report was required to identify key housing issues that will need to be dealt with in the core strategy.
The council required the research project to be carried out in accordance with Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Strategic Housing Market Assessments Practice Guidance version two (2007) and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). They were also looking for a practical and innovative approach to completing the work.
What we did
In delivering this project it was critical that our research not only complied with guidance and national policy requirements, but also followed a methodology that worked within the local context, and could provide detailed local context analysis.
We established a close working relationship with our client from the outset, and came up with a detailed project plan with agreed milestones and outcomes.
The methodology involved:
A review and analysis of relevant secondary data and existing research:
We analysed a range of secondary data including existing research, house price information, social rented lettings data, CORE intermediate sales data, population and household projections and economic indicators. This complies with DCLG good practice guidance, and helped to provide a context for the study.
We conducted consultations with a wide range of stakeholders to provide a deeper understanding of issues and themes of relevance to the study area. These included representatives from: the local planning authority, housing associations, builders and developers, estate agents, social services, the Homes and Community Agency and others.
This involved an online questionnaire - a highly cost effective way of engaging with a wide range of stakeholders - followed up with telephone and face-to-face discussions where necessary (particularly with estate agents and private developers).
A comprehensive household survey
arc4 undertook a comprehensive household survey, providing sub-area data from across North Tyneside to inform the SHMA.
The range of topics covered included:
- Your home, neighbourhood and household (property type, size, tenure, age, length of residence, satisfaction with dwelling and repair, household size, type, age, ethnicity, employment status, workplace, disability, adaptations, help required, older persons’ housing options and equity release, rent or mortgage costs, ability to pay housing costs and gross income)
- Housing history (previous address, tenure, type, size, reasons for moving)
- Future requirements: whole household (preferences and expectations by type, size, tenure, reasons for moving, equity availability, location preferences, registration on choice-based lettings system)
- Future requirements: emerging households (type, size, tenure, location, likely income and access to finance)
- Views on intermediate tenure products and accessing the housing market
- In order to maximise response rates to the survey, we:
- Posted a ‘tried and tested’ questionnaire designed to be easy to read, and which only includes questions of relevance to survey objectives, as agreed with the council
- Provided an 0800 freephone number to deal with queries and provide assistance with completing the questionnaires – this number is also available for out-of-hours enquiries
- Allowed for members of the arc4 team to complete surveys on behalf of those respondents who cannot complete the survey due to issues such as poor eye sight or reading skills
- Ensured good publicity through the local media and the council’s website
- Provided an online survey option to be publicised on the council’s website and the outgoing questionnaire
- Suggested a charitable donation in place of a prize draw (prize draws are considered culturally inappropriate for many groups, whereas offering a charitable donation is an acceptable way of increasing the response rate)
- Utilising this information we were able to meet the objectives of the commission and provide the council with a detailed evidence base covering:
- The current housing market: to enhance the council’s understanding of the drivers underpinning the housing market, the balance between supply and demand in different tenures, the interaction between demand for market housing and the need for affordable housing
- The future housing market: to derive estimates of the scale of future housing demand across the whole housing market, and consider how the current drivers of housing markets could shape future changes in housing demand
- Housing need: to analyse indicators of housing market activity to improve understanding about changes in demand over time, and identify pressure points within the area. The key aim was to identify evidence of failing markets such as volatile or unresponsive markets
- The requirements of different household groups: to identify particular groups that may exert considerable influences within the housing market area or may be ill suited to their dwelling type over the long term. If there are concerns about the housing requirements of specific groups, or good reason to believe that their needs significantly differ to the general population, evidence and analysis is required
We also addressed the following housing issues:
- Welfare reform
- Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
- Executive homes
- Self build and community land trusts
- Affordable rent
- Private rented sector (including institutional investment)
- Intermediate housing
- Ageing populations
- The needs of specific households (including families, older people, key workers, BME households, gypsies and travellers, students, disabled people and young people with specific needs)
Future monitoring and updating
Having carried out a comprehensive assessment of overall housing requirements, Arc4 continued to work closely with the council to suggest ways that the data could be updated and monitored on a regular basis
The outcome has been a robust SHMA, including Objectively Assessed Need (OAN), which is fully compliant with NPPG and NPPF requirements. It has provided the council with a clear understanding of the current housing market, including the demographic and economic context, the housing stock profile, and the active market.
It has also provided an indication of how the future housing market will develop (including indicators of future demand, such as changing population and economic conditions) and has forecast the level of current and future housing need across different market sectors.
In line with the guidance, the SHMA has also provided details of the housing requirements of specific household groups, and the scope for addressing demand through intermediate affordable housing. The quality of the data has been enhanced through extensive publicity surrounding the SHMA, generated by arc4. This ensured excellent stakeholder engagement, enabled us to facilitate robust discussions on key challenges, and helped to establish a consensus on housing need.
North Tyneside is now able to develop a long-term strategic view of housing need and demand, to inform key planning documents.
In particular it has:
- Enabled the council to think spatially about the nature and influence of the housing markets in respect to their local area
- Provided robust evidence to inform policies aimed at providing the right mix of housing across the whole of the market
- Provided evidence to inform policies about the level of affordable housing required, including the need for different sizes of affordable housing
- Supported the council to develop a strategic approach to housing through consideration of housing need and demand in all housing sectors (owner occupied, private rented and affordable) and assess the key drivers and relationships within the housing market
- Drawn together the bulk of the evidence required for the council to appraise strategic housing options, including: social housing allocation priorities, the role of intermediate housing products, stock renewal, conversion, demolition and transfer