Prof. Glen Bramley



School of the Built Environment

Phone: +44 (0)131 451 4605
  • Room 1.30
    William Arrol Building
  • School of the Built Environment
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Edinburgh
  • EH14 4AS
  • United Kingdom
Glen Bramley

Research profile


My principal research interests lie in the following fields

  • Housing needs, affordability and access; housing finance and affordable housing provision; household formation and migration;
  • The housing market, particularly the impact of planning regulation and local/neighbourhood impacts of policy interventions;
  • Planning, land supply and infrastructure; influences on urban form, and of urban form on social and other outcomes; 
  • Local services distribution and finance; local government finance, grants and local taxation.
  • Poverty and local services, e.g. schools and educational attainment; local environments in poor neighbourhoods; local income and wealth distributions

Significant recent and current projects include

UK Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey 2010-11 (ESRC, £184k)  [2010- 2014]
Glen Bramley, Kirsten Besemer & David Watkins, with Universities of Bristol, Glasgow, Queens Belfast and OU. This major grant supports a set of national surveys to measure and illuminate the nature and incidence of poverty and social exclusion in UK at the turn of the decade. This follows in succession to the Millenium Poverty (‘PSE’) survey of 2000, the Breadline Britain surveys of 1983 and 1990, and Townsend’s ‘Poverty in the United Kingdom’  study of 1969. The HWU team will focus on issues of local service access and exclusion, financial inclusion, housing affordability and poverty/exclusion issues, and (with Glasgow) neighbourhood issues.

Suburban neighbourhood adaptation for a changing climate (SNACC): identifying effective, acceptable and practical means of suburban re-design (EPSRC, £55k)
Glen Bramley, Neil Dunse, David Watkins, Sotirios Thanos, with University of West of England and Oxford Brookes [2009-2012] This study aims to explore how existing suburban neighbourhoods can be best adapted to reduce further impacts of climate change and to adapt to ongoing changes. Our role in the consortium is to analyse the impacts on housing and property markets and values.

Estimating Housing Need (CLG, £164k).
This study involves constructing a statistical model to estimate housing need at a national and regional level in England, and to project housing needs into the future, factoring in various possible economic and demographic scenarios. The outputs are expected to influence future central government decision-making on housing investment Glen Bramley, Hal Pawson, Michael White, David Watkins, Nicholas Pleace (York). Report publication by CLG Nov 2010 [Oct 2008-March 2010]

Developing sub-regional or cross regional models of housing markets, supply and affordability in England (National Housing and Planning Advice Unit NHPAU, £36k)
Feasibility study on construction and application of affordability models at disaggregated spatial scales. The research will also look to identify long term trends separate from short run dynamics. Glen Bramley, Michael White, Chris Leishman (Glasgow), Mark Andrew (City University) [April 2009 - July 2010]

Serving Deprived Communities in a Recession (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, pilot study and case studies).
This project will assess the impact of public spending cuts on local authority provided services, with particular reference to impacts of more deprived groups and neighbourhoods.(with Glasgow University, 2010-11)

Evaluation of Mortgage Rescue Scheme and Home Owners Mortgage Support Scheme (Communities and Local Government: £40k).
Staff: Glen Bramley, Jimmy Morgan, Filip Sosenko, with University of York) [2009-11] This project is evaluating two of the Government’s initiatives taken in response to the Credit Crisis and subsequent housing market recession, in order to alleviate the potential impact of these events on mortgage repossessions.

Selected publications
  1. Hill, M. & Bramley, G. (1986) Analysing Social Policy, Oxford, Blackwell;
  2. Bramley, G. (1990) Equalization Grants and Local Expenditure Needs: the price of equality.  Aldershot: Avebury;
  3. Bramley, G. Bartlett, W.  and Lambert, C. (1995)  Planning, the Market and Private Housebuilding.  London: UCL Press.
  4. Bramley, G., Munro, M.  & Pawson, H. (2004) Key Issues in Housing: Markets and Policies in 21st Century Britain. Palgrave MacMillan.
  5. Bramley, G. & Smart, G. (1996) 'Modelling local income distributions in Britain', Regional Studies, 30:3, 239-55.
  6. Bramley, G. & Pawson, H.  (2002) ‘Low demand for housing: extent, causes and UK policy implications’, Urban Studies 39:3, 393-422.
  7. Bramley, G. & Karley, N.K. (2005) ‘How much affordable housing is needed in England?’, Housing Studies 20:5, 685-716.
  8. Bramley, G. & Leishman, C. (2005)  ‘Planning and housing supply in two-speed Britain: modelling local market outcomes’, Urban Studies  42:12, 2213-2244
  9. Bramley, G. Champion, T.  & Fisher, T. (2006)  ‘Exploring the household impacts of migration in Britain using panel survey data’, Regional Studies 40:8, 907-926.
  10. Bramley, G. & Karley, N.K. (2007)  ‘Home-ownership and educational attainment: school effects as neighbourhood effects’ Housing Studies 22:5, 693-722.
  11. Bramley, G., Leishman, C. & Watkins, D. (2008) Understanding neighbourhood housing markets: regional context, disequilibrium, sub-markets and supply; Housing Studies Vol 23(2) pp179-212
  12. Bramley, G. & Power, S. (2009), Urban form and social sustainability: the role of density and housing type, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design Vol 36 (1) pp 30-48. (Top Download for this journal in 2009)
  13. Bramley, G., Dempsey, N., Brown, C., Power, S. & Watkins, D. (2009) ‘Social sustainability and urban form: evidence from British cities’, Environment & Planning A 49:1, 2125-2142.
  14. Bramley, G., Pawson, H., Pleace, N., Watkins, D. & White, M. (2010) Estimating Housing Need. Research Report. London, CLG.
  15. Bramley, G. (2011) Affordability Criteria For Mortgage Lending: Household Panel Survey Evidence And Emerging Regulations In the UK’ EMF-ENHR Seminar on Housing and Mortgage Markets, Brussels, 30th -31st of March
  16. Bramley, G. (2011) Affordablity, Poverty and Housing Need: Triangulating Measures and Standards’ Journal of Housing & the Built Environment.
  • I have been Professor of Urban Studies at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh since August 2002, but was previously Professor of Planning & Housing, Heriot‑Watt University/Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh (from 1994).
  • I was a Reader, at the former School for Advanced Urban Studies, University of Bristol, 1993-4, and Deputy Director of SAUS, 1990‑92.  I originally joined SAUS in 1976 as Lecturer and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1990. I also gained my PhD from Bristol at that time.
  • Prior to that I worked as an Economist with Shankland/Cox Partnership, Town Planning Consultancy, 1973-76, working on the Lambeth Inner Area Study for the government (DoE); and undertook Postgraduate study at the University of Sussex, 1970-73.
  • I would claim to be one of Britain’s leading academics in housing and urban economics, having been engaged in academic and applied policy research in this field since the mid-1970s. I have been involved with or led a large number projects, some highly significant, funded by government, research councils or charitable foundations. My publications include around 50 refereed journal articles, many in the leading planning/urban studies journals, half-a-dozen books, and innumerable research reports.
  • I am responsible for one of the few serious attempts to measure and model the impact of planning controls on the housing market in the UK, as reflected in a string of papers and reports since 1993. The most recent phase of this entails creating the first panel econometric models of the British housing market at local/subregional level with an explicit planning/land supply input. Recent research has also linked this subregional market area analysis to a neighbourhood level.
  • I am probably best known in England for work on housing affordability and its relationship with housing needs assessment, including developing a widely-used affordability-based needs model (e.g. Treasury, Housing Corporation, Scottish Government, Council of Mortgage Lenders). This also led into influential policy-oriented work on low demand and unpopular housing, and much evaluative work on low cost home ownership initiatives, as well as producing official guidance on how to assess local needs.
  • I have also pursued a stream of research on equity issues in local public services. Initially this was mainly focussed on the grant systems used to distribute resources to different geographical areas, taking account of need. A second strand was to look at ‘who uses local services?’ and to analyse the patterns and implications of this evidence. A third strand, was to analyse the small geographical level of service delivery, as in pathbreaking studies of ‘where does public spending go?’ and ‘mainstream services and their impact on neighbourhood deprivation’. This has led into a fourth strand, the analysis of service outcomes and the implications for both resource allocation and for planning/housing/regeneration policies (e.g. recent work on the influence of home ownership on educational attainment).
  • One other strand which has been of growing interest has been research on ‘urban form’, and in particular on its effects on social and economic sustainability of neighbourhoods/communities. This work has been enabled by larger scale, longer term funding of an interedisciplinary 6-University consortium called ‘CityForm – the sustainable urban form consortium’ by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council  ( )