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Official Launch of the Devon Housing Commission  

Official Launch of the Devon Housing Commission  


Published on 12 July 2023

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The University of Exeter has joined forces with the eleven Devon-area local councils (including Exeter City Council) to tackle the sub-region’s housing crisis. After many years, the availability of affordable homes to buy and to rent across the area has become acute. This is thought to be having a negative impact on the area's prosperity, economic growth, and social mobility, as well as on people’s health and wellbeing. The Commission's task is to explore the root causes, and the extent of this impact, and to come up with potential solutions for longer-term improvements.

The purpose of the Devon Housing Commission is to conduct an in-depth analysis of the various local housing markets, bringing together socio-economic profiles, modelling of the future demographic projections, and the results from wide community and stakeholder engagement, to make a strong case to the UK Government in terms of changes to social and housing policy moving into the next decade.

The Commission’s report will also propose practical solutions that can be delivered at the local level which will start to address the ‘broken’ local housing markets across geographic Devon.

The objectives of the Devon Housing Commission are as follows:

  1. Develop a clear picture of the problems across local housing markets and tenure types across geographic Devon with a wide range of engagement from communities, experts, and partner agencies.
  2. Gain an understanding of the future need for housing supply, tenure types and use that will aid the wider outcomes of prosperity, economic growth, and social mobility
  3. Provide recommendations for social and housing policy changes required to respond to the crisis over the next decade
  4. Provide some practical recommendations that help to deliver improvements in the use, supply and tenure types, including improving the quality of the private rented stock in line with carbon plan objectives.

Specific themes that will be explored within the Commission’s remit include homelessness; housing affordability; how to create attractive communities; integrating housing with health and care; the impact of short-term letting; holiday accommodation; student housing; and ‘second homes’. The Commission will also be looking at how to deliver affordable housing in rural communities whilst protecting the environment.

This collaborative work between the group of local councils and the University is hoped to trigger a step change in the way that the local housing market operates in the future. A well-functioning housing market is vital to economic prosperity and to the general wellbeing of the population of the area. The University of Exeter is ideally placed to lead in exploring this very complex topic, using a combination of statistical data, new research, expert perspectives, and first-hand evidence from individuals and families, to generate a set of recommendations to Government that makes a powerful case for change.

The Commission will also be looking to learn from experiences elsewhere, particularly regarding the impact of unregulated short-term property lets for holidays, and the impact of student  accommodation, particularly in more densely populated areas like cities.

You can find out more about the Commission’s work here:

Alternatively, if you would like a more in-depth discussion about the issues raised, Matt Dodd, the Head of the Devon Housing Commission is happy to be contacted direct.