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Huge survey to assess housing problems in ‘crunch county’

Thousands of people will be invited to take part in new research to help provide information on why one particularly badly hit county is facing unprecedented pressure on housing.

Residents of Cornwall are being asked to complete a survey about their experiences of buying and living in their new property, including where they have moved from and why they have chosen to buy a new home.

Researchers from The Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter are leading the research, which will be shared with Cornwall Council, to understand how these factors contribute to housing pressures.


The project is funded by the UK government’s Shared Prosperity Fund as part of a suite of initiatives to accelerate research, development, and innovation, with additional support from Cornwall Council. The research will inform housing policy in Cornwall in the future and provide important data to help inform the council’s next Local Plan.

The 15-minute survey will also ask people about their views on local environmental issues, such as green space, air quality, access to locally produced foods, and travel and transport. All answers will be kept confidential, and people’s identities will remain anonymous.

Professor Malcolm Williams, who is leading the research, says: “The answers will help us understand the housing and associated characteristics of people who have moved into newly built housing. For example, are their characteristics the same or different to households in older housing? How was affordability achieved? How far are they into their housing careers? What proportion of residents are first time buyers, either in ‘affordable’ properties, or those sold on the open market?

 “Houses are being built in Cornwall at comparable rates to elsewhere, but it doesn’t seem to be helping the crisis of affordability and availability we see in the Duchy. We hope the answers to the survey will help show if building more housing will help, and if so what type of housing.”

Around 5,000 householders in Cornwall who live in postcodes where there has been a high proportion of new building, will be surveyed. There will also be a control group of people living in homes built more than 10 years ago.

Only those invited to complete the survey can take part, with respondents able to take part in a prize draw sponsored by several Cornish businesses.

The research partially replicates a study undertaken by Cornwall County Council, in the 1980s and researchers will compare the results.

“Finding out more about those who are living in new homes and how they achieved their goal will help us to compare between the historic and current contexts and examine how that data might help in planning for the future.”

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council adds: “We all know that Cornwall continues to experience extreme and unprecedented pressures on housing, which is largely due to an imbalance in housing supply and demand.    

‌“Nationally, there has been a significant reduction in the availability of homes and a matched escalation in housing costs exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. High house prices and a shortage of accommodation are causing severe issues in Cornwall. The popularity of Cornwall as a major tourist destination, site of second homes and a popular area for relocation from other parts of Britain where house prices have in the past been considerably higher, have made it harder for those on lower incomes to buy in the Duchy. These factors have influenced the housing market and put pressure on families and communities to find affordable housing.”


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