Below are real-life examples of how organisations have found Census data invaluable in planning local provision of housing.

Highland Council

Vacant Property and Holiday Homes

In an area like the Highlands, where there is a relatively high number of second and holiday homes, it is important to understand how these are used.

Cath King, Policy Manager with The Highland Council, said:

Cath King Highland Council


"The census is the best source of information on the number of vacant properties and second/holiday homes."

“The census is the best source of information on the number of vacant properties and second/holiday homes. Understanding their use helps to plan services such as refuse collection and assess whether a community needs more houses built.

“We need to plan ahead and know how many houses are required over the next 10 years, for the Local Housing Strategy and Local Plan and therefore how much land to allocate in the Local Plan.

“Census information has been essential to complete this assessment for both the Planning and Development and Housing and Property services.”

Falkirk Council

Migration and ethnic community housing impacts

Falkirk Council has used the census to help with a considerable amount of work, particularly for analysing migration trends to help identify housing needs as part of the council’s new local housing strategy.

The assessment and identification of the needs of ethnic minority communities involves a vast amount of forward planning, research and accurate data collection by local councils.

Jenny Boag Senior Research Officer

"We have used the census to look at patterns of migration to help us define local housing market areas and find out how self contained they are"

The importance of the comprehensive statistics gathered by Scotland’s census is continuing to prove invaluable. The census helps councils to better understand their local area and assess the many factors that need to be considered when planning new projects and distributing funding.

Jenny Boag, Senior Research Officer for Falkirk Council, said:

“We have used the census to look at patterns of migration and to help us define local housing market areas and find out how self contained they are. In comparison to the other available data – such as Sasines - which only records the number of sales by owner occupiers, the census data is much more comprehensive , providing information on age, gender, detailed origins and destinations.

“We have also used the census to look at migration by school catchment area in order to assess how many people and pupils move in and out of the different catchment areas.”

She continued: “The census provides us with a benchmark. I have recently been doing some small area household projections and the census was the only source of information on this subject which could be matched with changes at a council area level.”

Cairngorm National Park Authority

Responsible rural development

The land that lies within the boundaries of the Cairngorms National Park is unique when it comes to project planning and development. The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is responsible for overseeing all applications for development that are of significance to the park’s aims and this requires reliable information and assessment of the future trends and needs of the area.

The CNPA’s Sustainable Rural Development department is responsible for advising its Board and staff and the department has made recommendations based on census statistics on local housing. These detail local authority, privately and registered social landlord-owned properties.

Fiona Murray Cairngorm NPA


"I have used census information to inform our housing section of the Park Plan which influences all of our projects"

This information can also be used to identify and plan future projects within the park’s boundaries and the data collected by the census has also been used as an aid to influencing new house building policy and the redevelopment of existing housing on land within the CNPA area across the Highlands, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perth and Kinross.

The CNPA work with each local authority on the subject of its housing needs, which helps with reliable planning of housing required projects in each area.

Housing Policy Officer, Fiona Munro, said:

"As I deal with all issues involving housing I have used census information to inform our housing section of the Park Plan which influences all of our projects.

"In terms of housing numbers, the information from the 1991 and 2001 Censuses highlighted private rented housing as being a larger sector than that of the local authority or housing association sectors. These figures showed houses being sold under the right to buy scheme and local authority stock reducing."

"This influenced our work with private landowners as they have more private rented housing stock, which is not always in good condition. We encouraged private landowners to apply for grants available to help them improve their housing or even to lease to a local authority."

Information collected through the census was also utilised by the consultant charged with writing the Cairngorms Housing System Analysis in 2007."

Aberdeen Council

Census migration and ethnicity statistics support Aberdeenshire housing strategy

Aberdeenshire Council uses census information to help prepare its local housing strategy and local development plan and it looks forward to receiving the results of the 2011 Census, to give a clearer picture of what is needed locally.

Census data from the last census ten years ago on Aberdeenshire’s migrant and ethnic minority groups is limited, because of the numbers were so small compared to the central belt.

Currently information on Aberdeenshire migrants is requested mostly by individuals acting on behalf of community groups or community councils.

At local authority level, census information on ethnic minority groups and migrants is used by the Aberdeenshire and neighbouring Aberdeen City Council Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) to provide an understanding of housing need. The statistics are used to identify the specific housing needs of ethnic minority households and EU migrant workers.

The 2001 Census revealed that people from the Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi community formed the largest single ethnic minority group in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council housing market areas.

Since then, there has been a substantial increase in overseas in-migration, so the ethnic composition of the Aberdeen City and Shire area population has changed.

In particular, the growth of the Eastern European population in Aberdeenshire occurred after the last census in 2001, so information on this group and indeed the changing ethnic mix of the population is limited.

A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council said:

“The Scottish Government issued guidance on Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA), which sets out the framework local authorities should follow to develop a good understanding of how housing markets operate. Accurate census data is vital.

“This HNDA will influence affordable housing policies and the allocation of suitable available land. The assessment will also help the local housing strategy to identify what we need to do to meet our housing need and demand requirements, now and in the future. It will help us to work out the best way of delivering the strategic outcomes.”

The HNDA will be reviewed every five years, along with the local housing strategy and the local development plan.