Does Bournemouth have the right types of homes to meet demand?

Would it surprise you to know that in some parts of Bournemouth – largely prosperous areas with high proportions of mature residents – the housing crisis is not about supply but rather dispersal of that supply? There are more than enough bedrooms for everyone – it’s just that those bedrooms are disproportionately spread among the population. Some better-off, more mature households live in large homes with multiple spare bedrooms, whilst younger Bournemouth families face over-crowding.

But it’s not the fault of these well-off mature residents that this is the current situation. Let’s be frank, Bournemouth doesn’t have enough housing full stop, otherwise we wouldn’t have the large council house waiting list and so many of the younger generations renting instead of buying. But until now it hasn't been clear that Bournemouth actually also has the wrong types of properties.

We're not building the smaller homes in Bournemouth that are needed for first-time buyers, and we aren’t building enough bungalows for the older generations, so they can be released from their larger Bournemouth homes, thus allowing those growing Bournemouth families to move up the ladder.

Types of property in the BH8 postcode

Looking at the stats for Bournemouth, and BH8 in particular...

A graph showing Bournemouth property types compared to national property types

When we compare Bournemouth (BH8) with the regional stats of the BH postcode, the locality has proportionally 32.4% more apartments, yet 23.2% less detached homes. Looking nationally, Bournemouth (BH8) has proportionally 128.1% more apartments and quite surprisingly, proportionally 58.3% less terraced/town houses.

There has been a shortage of smaller townhouses and smaller apartments built in Bournemouth over the last 20 years ­– most new builds in the last couple of decades seem to have been either large executive houses or larger (and posher) apartments, yet demand has been more towards the lower to middle sized households.

New homes in Bournemouth

The builders do want to build, but there's a deficiency of building land in Bournemouth, and if there's a shortage of building land then, of course, new home-builders build whatever gives them the biggest profit. The properties that give them the largest profit are the biggest and most expensive properties – and certainly aren’t bungalows, as they take up too much land. So who can blame them?

Yet it’s not a lack of space that’s causing the problem (look at all the green you see when flying over the UK) – it’s the planning system. Green belts must be observed, but only 1.2% (yes 1.2% - that isn’t a typo) is built on in this country as a whole with homes. We need the planners to release more land (and then force/encourage builders to build on it - not sit on it).

Another problem is that of the smaller new homes that have been built, most of them have been snapped up for renting, not owning.

So, what’s the answer? Build more council houses? Sounds great, but the local authority haven’t enough money to cut the grass verges, let alone spend billions on new homes in Bournemouth. The Government did relax the planning laws a few years ago, for example for changing office space into residential use, but they could do more. New home builders currently have no incentive to build the inexpensive homes or bungalows that the system needs to make a difference.

Changing the Bournemouth property market

So, what does this mean for Bournemouth homeowners and Bournemouth landlords?

Changing the dynamics of the Bournemouth, regional and national property market will take decades, not years. The simple fact is we are living longer, and we need 240,000 to 250,000 houses a year to stand still with demand – let alone start to eat into 30 years of under-building, where the average has been just under 170,000 households a year.

That means that today, as a country, we have a pent-up demand of 2.25m additional households and we need to build a further 4.2m households on top of that figure for population growth between 2019 and 2039. So irrespective of whether we have short term blip in the property market in the next 12/18 months, investing in property is, and always will be, a great investment as demand will always outstrip supply.

The property experts at Foxes have over 20 years’ experience in the local property market, and are on-hand to offer advice about selling, buying or renting a home. Contact us today at, call us on 01202 299600 or find us online at


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