GUEST ARTICLE: Data analysis shows hot spots for development

  • 23 May 2024

Groundbreaking data analysis by socio-economic experts at Marrons has revealed areas of opportunity for development across England and highlighted the positive impact of specialist and affordable homes as part of a functioning housing market, much of which can be facilitated through market-led development at scale.

Utilising the latest ONS Census data (2021) and 2018-based population projections, planning, design and development consultancy Marrons has painted a clear picture of England’s housing need in 2040 in its latest report. Supplementing this is data from local authority housing registers, social housing stock records and extrapolated housing requirement figures using the government’s standard method.

Dan Usher, economics director at Marrons, who specialises in housing need evidence, says: “England is poised for significant demographic change over the next two decades, bringing forth new challenges and opportunities in the housing sector. Already, the country has been named as the most difficult place to find a home in the developed world[i], and our ageing population and rising property prices will only exacerbate the problem.


We are nowhere near meeting the government’s minimum housing need of 300,000 properties a year – the average is 215,000 over the past decade – so parliament’s response to its own target is grossly inadequate. However, the obsession with the number is meaningless if hitting targets is prioritised over and above the needs of local populations.

“A national housing policy – supported by a proper approach to regeneration, systematic review of green belt and an in-depth understanding of the socio-economic needs of a location – will highlight areas of opportunity and meaningful change. Without this, we will see no movement in the market or developments that do not serve the population’s needs, placing the housing crisis in gridlock.”

Where’s the demand?

Regionally, the South East leads the way in housing need outside of Greater London, with demand for more than 950,000 homes by 2040, according to the government’s minimum housing need, which is calculated using the standard method. In contrast, the North East demands the least, with a requirement of 112,388 properties.

While the first-time buyer demographic (aged 25-44) is anticipated to decline nationally by 1.6%, this group will make up 30% of adults in England by 2040. Yorkshire and the Humber (10%), the West Midlands (7%) and the South West (1%) will buck the trend with positive growth among this age group.

Dan adds: “Despite a national decline in numbers, this demographic remains a hugely important segment of the housing market. The first-time buyers of 2040 are teenagers and young adults living with their parents today, so they will be completely new entrants to the housing market.

“The consequences of not adequately providing for this segment of the housing market are considerable and will result in many young people moving back into the family home, with delays to household formation and fertility rates in younger adults directly impacted.”

The latest figures show that only 16% of the 295,197 social rent[ii] properties owned by local authorities and registered providers that were sold or demolished nationally between 2015/16 and 2021/22 have been replaced. If this continues at its current level, it will result in a net loss of 385,887 homes by 2040.

‘The losses are mounting up’

Dan said: “England is losing social housing much faster than it is being built and the losses are mounting up – in fact, according to housing and homelessness charity Shelter, social housebuilding in England being at its lowest rate in decades. Demand is continually outstripping supply, leaving the poorest households with no choice but to enter unaffordable private tenancies – putting them at risk of homelessness.

“This deficit is at the heart of this country’s housing emergency, presenting an opportunity for developers and social housing providers to bring projects forward. Helping to build the case for the scheme’s need in order to influence and convince local authorities it needs to be approved is essential, and it is important decision-makers take the crisis seriously.

“It is clear we need lots of market housing, but we also need to go beyond this and provide a mix of housing types of tenures. Specialist properties, such as affordable and later living, could be the key to unlocking issues for local authorities if we properly understand the local population now and in the future.”


[i] Housing Horizons: New analysis shows true scale of how UK housing is falling behind international counterparts (


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