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Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research


The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit (NHPAU) was an independent body set up to advise national and local government and other bodies on the affordability of market housing. Its creation followed Kate Barker’s Review of Housing Supply in 2004 and her recommendation for the creation of a body to provide expert advice on housing matters, particularly affordability. The Unit was governed by an expert Board that was chaired by Professor Stephen Nickell, CBE, FBA, a former member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, and until 2012, Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford.

As part of its remit, NHPAU considered the implications of the Government’s national ambitions for long-term market affordability and housing supply on the level and broad distribution of future house building, disseminating and helping Government and the regions to develop consistent methodological practice in assessing market housing affordability. NHPAU also commissioned research on issues affecting affordability. 

The NHPAU Board commissioned CCHPR to undertake research on the availability and quality of data sources relevant to the work of the NHPAU. This included, among others, data on individual income, household income, earnings, house prices, mortgages, property characteristics, second homes, vacancies, rents, household characteristics, construction, planning, migration and population. 

The research project not only covered an assessment of the quality, coverage and comparability of the various data sources but also information on licensing arrangements, access, cost and restrictions on use. Several outputs were required, including briefing notes on the various data sources which could be used by members of the unit, a publication and a formal write-up of the research findings. Attendance at key meetings with data suppliers was also required. 

Due to the dispersed nature of the data on affordability and related issues, it was important to ensure that all relevant stakeholders were consulted, and that the data held by these organisations was fully considered. 

A good knowledge of the available data sources related to market housing affordability, and their strengths and weaknesses, was essential. It was also important for the research to understand the comparability of different data sources and highlight areas where there is a lack of good quality comprehensive data. This allowed the most appropriate data to be selected for each piece of work undertaken or commissioned by NHPAU researching the affordability of market housing.

CCHPR Contact


National Housing and Planning Advice Unit

Project Start Date

1st January 2008