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Census highlights need for 'big picture' approach to housing and growth

Monday 16th July 2012

The statistical bulletin issued today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on the emerging 2011 census data, illustrates the urgent need for England to take a national spatial approach towards planning for demographic change and population growth, warns leading housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA). 

The population of England and Wales has grown by 3.7 million in the 10 years since the last census, rising from 52.4 million in 2001, an increase of 7.1 per cent. This was the largest growth in the population in England and Wales in any 10-year period since census taking began, in 1801. It compares with a rise in population of 1.6 million between 1991 and 2001.

Of the population growth between 2001 and 2011, the highest was in London which gained over 850,000 residents, an increase of 11.6 per cent. The South East of England also experienced large growth, 611,000 residents, and an increase of 7.6 per cent on 2001. The lowest increase was in the North East, which gained 56,600 residents in the 10 years since the last census, an increase of 2.2 per cent.

Commenting on the bulletin, Kate Henderson, TCPA Chief Executive, said:

“Meeting housing needs arising from demographic change will require a major expansion in housing provision, but this can be squared with sustainable development only by dealing explicitly with spatial inequalities and economic disparities across England.”

“The continued development of the Greater South East will inevitably meet powerful constraints derived from congestion and resource shortages. The redistribution of these pressures can in part be achieved through a national spatial framework, but further detailed work on the future distribution of England’s population is also required.”

The TCPA strongly believes there is a need for a national spatial framework and made the case for such policy in its 2006 report, Connecting England, and in a subsequent report, Connecting Local Economies, published in February 2010. The new framework would guide public investment and address how best to accommodate growth and renewal across the nation.

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