A Critical Reflection on Housing Market Area Definition in England

Stephen Hincks, Mark Baker

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The adoption of administrative boundaries as approximations of housing markets has long restricted the scope for housing market analysis and planning policy development to be undertaken within a functional housing market framework in England. This has prompted consideration of the value of deriving housing market areas (HMAs) to underpin the development of housing market intelligence for planning and policy purposes. Drawing on a case study of North West England, this paper critically reviews alternative approaches that have been used to define HMAs. The review highlights that in practice technical and methodological constraints have restricted the operationalisation of an idealised conceptualisation of HMAs. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-897
Number of pages24
JournalHousing Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • functional areas
  • Housing markets
  • planning


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