Housing Horizons: establishing the challenge

Housing Horizons is a project run by Community Housing Cymru, the membership body for Welsh housing associations. Its main aim is to set an aspirational and long-lasting vision for housing associations in Wales.


Housing is a long-term business, but we operate in short term political and funding environments which means that priorities can shift and uncertainty can limit our ambitions. This is why we need a long-term vision.

We launched Housing Horizons at our Annual Conference last December and we’ve been gathering views from members and stakeholders ever since. We also commissioned Savills to produce a report on what the challenge for the sector looks like in 2036.

We’re focusing on three main challenges – changing demographics, housing stock & household composition, and workforce.

Changing Demographics

  • The population will increase by 4.3% to 3.3m by 2036
  • By 2031, 54% of households will be headed by someone over 65 and 100,000 households will be made up of a single person aged over 85
  • In 2036, 25% of households could be headed by a digital native.

These changes have big implications for the homes we develop and maintain and the services we provide. How suitable are our current homes for an ageing population, and what does the rise of digital natives mean for the services we provide?

Housing stock & household composition

  • We need 4,200 new homes per year in the social sector in Wales to meet demand
  • 29% of housing stock in Wales will be over 90 years old by 2036
  • Increase of 108,881 households by 2036 (8% increase), but growth won’t be evenly spread. Nearly a third of this increase will take place in Cardiff.

Projected changes to the composition of households will impact on demand for certain property sizes, particularly as the largest increase will be in one person households. With an ageing population and ageing stock, how do we address concerns around accessibility, adaptability and affordability of maintenance costs? The statistics also demonstrate the need to plan at a local level.


  • 34% of current workforce will have passed retirement age by 2036
  • There will be 96,000 fewer working aged adults in 2036, and Cardiff is the only area projected to see an increase in working age population
  • However, over the next 7 years, we’ll see a 4% growth in the workforce.

The projected 4% growth relies on previously unemployed adults moving into employment, and the majority of this growth will be in part time work. How will we support the growing number of households with lower incomes due to part time work, and how can we attract young people into housing?

What happens next?

We launched Phase Two at our Leadership Conference on 23 June and will soon be moving on to Phase Three, ‘Join the Conversation’, which will include four roadshows to gather views and solutions on the challenge ahead. It’s an exciting time for the sector in Wales!