Housing, regeneration and health

Lead investigator
Professor Ronan Lyons, Swansea University

Numerous reports, such as the 2010 Marmot Review of health inequalities ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’, have found the following:

  • Housing can negatively affect children’s educational attainment, emotional wellbeing, and resilience;
  • Fuel poverty negatively affects dietary opportunities and choices;
  • Cold housing negatively affects dexterity and increases the risk of accidents and injuries in the home.

However, only a small number of high quality studies offer evidence about changes in health following housing renewal or refurbishment.

Between 2009 and 2015, Carmarthenshire Council are investing £207 million in social housing improvements in 9,256 homes. This includes:

  • Internal works – Upgrading all kitchen units and bathroom suites, ensuring downstairs toilets in all houses, full gas or oil central heating with energy-efficient condensing boilers, and rewiring to provide sufficient sockets in all rooms;
  • Windows and doors – Provision of secure uPVC double-glazed windows and doors to the same standard as the windows with secured locks;
  • Thermal insulation – Cavity wall/external wall insulation and loft insulation where possible;
  • Gardens and estates – Provision of boundary garden fencing, outdoor security lights, and paths that are in good condition.
Aims & objectives
To measure the immediate and longer-term health benefits resulting from a major housing regeneration programme currently underway, in which social housing is brought up to a national quality standard. To investigate whether improving housing benefits the physical and mental health of residents, and the economic value of any health benefits.
Study design

Natural experiment – cross comparison cohort study, comparing the health of the residents before and after the interventions, and comparing their health changes with those of social housing residents in a nearby region (whose properties will not be improved during the study period).

Intervention participants are the residents of the 9,256 properties being improved between 2009 and 2014.

Outcomes will be evaluated for the two years before the intervention began and compared with the time period following the intervention, the length of which will vary between households. The following will be measured:

  • For people over 60 years old, the number of emergency hospital admissions for conditions such as heart attacks, asthma attacks, falls and burns.
  • For people of all ages, the number of prescriptions made for anxiety and depression, asthma and related conditions.

Each ‘regenerated’ house and its local area will be linked to an objective tool, designed by members of this project team, to measure the quality of the neighbourhood’s built environment. This uses independent observers to gather postcode-level data on the characteristics of the environment around a home or group of homes.

The study will investigate the costs and economic value of the housing regeneration programme, and hence the extent to which is can be regarded as an efficient use of public funds. It will also assess the viability of constructing a tool for use by local government and private social housing management to assess the benefits of regeneration programmes.

Further information & publications
Start date
April 2011
End date