Research overview, focus & aim

Our aim is to examine the relationships between contemporary investment flows into the housing markets of these cities and the arrangements and public policy instruments that are designed to regulate them.

Major cities have been faced with unprecedented development pressures over recent decades as their populations and economies have expanded, and their built environments have become highly attractive locations for global investment. These pressures have been particularly acute in the production and consumption of housing, much of which is becoming increasingly inaccessible and less affordable for citizens and communities, particularly for young people and those on lower incomes.


This project is one of the first to examine these broader trends using an in-depth comparative approach.  We contrast the experiences of 3 of Europe’s core centres – Amsterdam, London, and Paris – from the perspectives of private sector professionals, policy-makers, and citizens’ groups.  We will be drawing on financial data, investment market analyses, interviews, and policy assessments to build up a comprehensive account of change and the opportunities for effective reform.

Image credits: Amsterdam by Robin Benzrihem; London by Damiano Baschiera; and Paris by Vitoria Beatriz Fetter. All via unsplash.


The research is timely as urban housing has been subject to persistent policy failures in terms of access, fuelled on the one hand, by growing demands for ‘affordable’ housing, and on the other the expansion of either housing for relatively well-off middle classes or at the extreme for top-end, luxury units or buy-to-let for small households, short-term visitors, or students. The social, economic, and environmental impacts of these policy failings are being felt by a growing range of citizens and have longer term structural implications for the competitiveness of urban economies and the social and political cohesion of cities. It is a problem that is becoming globalised and affecting high income cities in Europe along with other long-established housing markets in countries such as the USA, Canada and Japan, and emerging markets including China, India, Russia, and Brazil.