Headlines: March 30th, 2006

The assumptions that mixed tenure housing developments reduce property prices or that they make homes harder to sell, are dismissed in a new report today from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. “More than tenure mix: Developer and purchaser attitudes to new housing estates” has analysed local property values compared with those on mixed estates and has also looked at the experiences of residents and developers.The study has found that ensuring the quality of other aspects of a development could eliminate the risk of an adverse affect on prices and ease the task of finding buyers. It concludes that the mixed communities in the study are successful and not characterised by the problems often linked with exclusively low-income areas.

Generally, the schemes met developers’ expectations and those of housing managers and local people, and had become pleasant places to live, learn and work. Nine out of ten home-owners on the estates were satisfied with their areas and more than three quarters were positive about having neighbours with different incomes or they felt it made no difference.

The report is part of a JRF Foundation publication, “Mixed Communities: Success and sustainability” written by Chris Holmes and drawing together evidence-based conclusions to inform future policies around mixed communities from seven detailed research reports encompassing 25 mixed neighbourhood case studies.

Today’s report says policy on mixed communities has traditionally focused on the mix of housing tenure but this new research shows that home type or size, as well as household type and income, are at least as important. The study finds that tenure and income are “non-issues” to residents, who see their neighbours as “ordinary people”. Mixed communities also helped to reduce the potential prejudice faced by tenants. They also offer an opportunity to break out of the spiral associated with concentrated disadvantage. Communities with housing design similarities across owner-occupied and rented housing blurred tenure distinctions and emphasised similarities rather than differences between people living there.

Chris Holmes said, “Mixed communities are not a panacea for all problems, but they can be attractive and popular places for a full range of households to live. Although their delivery requires careful thought, design and management, the research indicates that many potential problems can be overcome if they are given the required attention.”

In some of the areas studied in the research concerns were raised about homes being bought for private renting. This reduction in the number of home-owners had not been foreseen and led to additional challenges in ensuring the communities were seamlessly managed and sustained.