University of Sheffield to tackle UK's housing problems as part of new national research centre

The University of Sheffield is a lead partner in the new UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) launched by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) today (Thursday 6 April).

Row of rooftopsThe national research centre, which will be independent from government and other interests, is a collaboration between nine UK universities and four non-higher education organisations and will have staff located at five Centres across the UK (Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and London as well as Sheffield).

It will benefit from more than £6m of investment from the ESRC, Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The centre will advance knowledge of the housing market, provide robust evidence to inform housing policy and practice across the UK, and will join together a comprehensive range of stakeholders with the goal of tackling housing problems at a national, devolved, regional, and local level.

The leadership of CaCHE will come from the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, Cardiff and the Chartered Institute of Housing, the national voice of the housing profession.

The centre, under the Directorship of Professor Kenneth Gibb, will involve leading academics, policy makers and practitioners from across the country including six academics from the University of Sheffield - Professor Craig Watkins, Professor John Flint, Dr Ed Ferrari, Dr Sarah Payne and Dr Tom Moore from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and Professor David Robinson from the Department of Geography.

The centre will also benefit from the significant housing expertise of staff from the School of Architecture, Management School, School of Law and Department of Landscape.

CaCHE will appoint 16 new staff, including five knowledge exchange staff and eight postdoctoral research fellows, who will be split between Glasgow and Sheffield. There will also be 10 PhD students linked to the Centre.

The centre is uniquely placed to foster collaboration across the housing sector to develop truly innovative solutions to the UK's housing problems.

Professor Craig Watkins, University of Sheffield

The work of the evidence centre will focus on six overlapping themes:

  • Housing and the economy
  • Understanding housing markets: demand and need, supply and delivery
  • Housing aspirations, choices and outcomes
  • Housing, poverty, health, education and employment
  • Housing and neighbourhood design, sustainability and placemaking
  • Multi-level governance

The University of Sheffield will lead on the Understanding Housing Markets, and Housing Aspirations, Choice and Outcomes themes. It will also act as a Knowledge Exchange hub for the North of England, working with non-academic partners from across the region to develop shared priorities and to co-produce innovative solutions to local, regional and national housing problems. Sheffield will also be responsible for developing the centre’s doctoral training and building an Early Career Researcher network.

Professor Craig Watkins, Director of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield, who will be the National Director of Research for CaCHE, said: "The investment in CaCHE provides a generational opportunity for the research, policy and practice communities to work in partnership for a sustained period. The centre is uniquely placed to foster collaboration across the housing sector to develop truly innovative solutions to the UK’s housing problems.

"I am delighted that Sheffield will be home to a large hub of researchers and that, as well as working with our partners regionally and nationally, we will be leading CaCHE’s doctoral training and helping develop the next generation of housing researchers."

Professor John Flint, who will lead the Housing Choice, Aspirations and Outcomes theme, added: "Rising house prices, a lack of affordable housing and the difficulties ‘generation rent’ face in getting on the housing ladder are well documented and require policymakers, developers and politicians to work together to implement sustainable solutions. By being part of this new centre, we will be able to provide robust, evidence-led approaches that can fill the knowledge gap that currently exists in the UK’s approach to housing."

CaCHE will receive £6 million of funding from the ESRC, with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the AHRC. A further £1.5m of funding will come from the consortium and more than 20 collaborators. As well as the universities involved, non-academic partners in the centre include Chartered Institute of Housing, the Royal Town Planning Institute, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Professor Jane Elliot, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said: "As a nation we face key housing challenges, such as a lack of affordable housing preventing young people from owning their own home, meeting the housing needs of an ageing population, building sustainable houses that are resilient to flooding and climate change, and tackling homelessness."

"Improving the UK’s growth and stability, the cohesion of its communities and the wellbeing and prosperity of its citizens requires effective housing policies. It is therefore vital that policymakers have the best evidence at hand when making decisions about what sort of houses to build, where and for whom."

"This centre draws together internationally renowned experts across a diverse range of fields. It will serve as a vital national institution, and provide a leading voice in the UK on housing issues."

Professor Gill Valentine, Vice President and Head of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: "I am very pleased to see Sheffield leading the way as part of this new centre which will play a key role in addressing the UK’s housing challenges. It is also well-deserved recognition for the expertise the University has in this area, and through this innovative collaborative centre Sheffield is well placed to develop the future direction of housing policy in the UK."

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046