Our programme of research delivers a major portfolio of reports and practical guides

Tenure integration in housing developments: a literature review (NF66)


Tenure integration in new housing developments has been a focus for research over the past 30 years, much of it investigating the perceived social benefits of mixed communities. This literature review considers the success of various approaches to locating and distributing social housing in mixed- tenure developments, and answers research questions on issues including spatial configuration, quality of the design and layout of neighbourhoods, the mix of typologies and unit sizes, consideration of tenure mix in the planning process, and getting the management and maintenance strategies right.

Summary of content

Executive summary

The NHBC Foundation, in collaboration with the Homes and Communities Agency, commissioned this review of existing literature to explore issues surrounding tenure integration in new housing developments. The review primarily considers the success of the various approaches to locating and distributing social housing in mixed-tenure developments, and secondarily answers specific research questions on the perceived benefits of tenure integration.

The initial aim of the review was to research the role of tenure integration in new developments, but much of the literature studied focused on the impact of the complex web of historical government policies relating to existing neighbourhoods housing socially mixed communities, which included mixed tenure. In addition, some researchers concluded that much of the evidence base on the benefits of mixed tenure was of poor quality and devalued by the lack of measurable non-mixed tenure control groups and long-term evaluation.

However, despite this, the literature review has revealed useful findings relating to the role of tenure integration within new developments.

The key findings are:

1. Mixed tenure is part of UK life

Most researchers agreed that the building of mono-tenure developments was considered a thing of the past and no longer had a role in the strategic objectives of many developers or social landlords. This was despite the fact that the financing of mixed-tenure developments, with its increasing reliance on cross-subsidy, was seen to be challenging for all those involved and the main barrier to mixed tenure in the future.

2. Tenure integration does not reduce property prices

This is true as long as the design of the overall development and the quality of the housing is of a high standard. Many researchers emphasised the importance of ‘place-making’ rather than tenure configuration, ie, the building of attractive neighbourhoods that knitted the development into the surrounding area.

3. A range of house types and sizes could help to stabilise neighbourhoods

A wider range of typologies and unit sizes could encourage residents to move from private rented to purchase, or those in apartments to family housing, thereby encouraging long-term value in terms of social relationships across income groups and tenures, neighbourhood stability and economic success.

4. The management of mixed-tenure developments is complex and under-researched

Management structures and associated costs should be agreed before building, to ensure future clarity around roles and responsibilities for long-term management.
There was little specific research in this important area and significant gaps included: the lack of industry skills for the management of mixed tenures; the management demands of the technical complexities of new developments; and the challenge of ensuring service charges are apportioned fairly and appropriately between tenures with different expectations around the level of services to be provided and different notions of affordability.

5. The impact of the boom of the private rented sector on mixed tenure developments is particularly under-researched

High levels of privately rented properties were found to considerably change the anticipated tenure mix on a development, providing both advantages (greater income-related integration between tenures) and disadvantages (greater turnover of properties and lack of management accountability).

Further research could show:

  • The optimum mix to encourage social cohesion, maintain property prices and help create long-lasting communities.
  • The impact of changes to tenure mix and the extent of social interaction between tenures over a period of time.
  • A clear link between improved life outcomes for individuals and mixed-tenure neighbourhoods.
  • The effect that the buy-to-let sector has in mixed-tenure communities and how engagement with private landlords and their residents could be improved.
  • How to manage different tenure expectations, particularly in apartments and high-rise developments.