British towns 'needs to build more than one new home a day'
British towns and cities will need to build at least one home a day between now and 2039 to meet the projected increase in population, according to a new report.
A study titled Britain's Demographic Challenge by the think-tank Civitas has said Britain is on course to have see its population rise by nearly ten million by the end of the 2030s, around three times the population of Greater Manchester, requiring four million more homes. By 2050 Britain could overtake Germany as the most populous nation in Europe.
The report considered how various locations would need to respond to the demand for more homes, focusing on the situations likely to face Dundee, Stockton-on-Tees, Norwich and Guildford.
In the case of Dundee, a city that has experienced much decline in recent years, there would still need to be around one extra home built per day to deal with the rise in population.
Stockton-on-Tees is another town dealing with long-term industrial decline but enjoying a boost through the opening of a Durham University campus and investment in its waterfront. It is projected to need 1.2 new homes a day.
Norwich, which is fairly isolated and outside easy commuting distance to London in an agricultural part of Britain, was noted as having a well-established university but needing better infrastructure. Nonetheless, it was projected to need 1.4 new homes a day, the same figure as Guildford, an affluent town in the Surrey commuter belt.
In all four cases, the local plan does currently call for the construction of more homes than the projected need. If they are built, this will be good news not just for those seeking a house, but also insulation fitters and plumbers, as their skills will be in great demand if the need for extra homes is to be met.
However, the report notes, that alone is not enough to deal with the challenges of a rising population. In addition to extra homes, there will need to be substantial investment in infrastructure and places of employment. This will mean more roads, railways, factories and offices, not to mention schools, GP surgeries, hospitals and other public amenities.
The report argued that significant changes in government planning strategy are needed now in order to deal with the challenges of population growth. It noted that even if immigration rules become more restrictive after Brexit, the rise in population will still be significant as the full effects of the policy change feed through.
Author of the paper Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, a former MP who is now a peer, said: "The people of this country are entitled to have laid out before them the range of challenges and opportunities that demographic change will cause.
"Given the apparent scale of that demographic change and the long-term impact of any policy decisions such a debate should begin sooner rather than later."
Population density is an issue that may impact specifically on housing. The report projects that the UK will be 2.7 times as densely populated as France by 2039 and have 1.5 times as many people per hectare as Germany. Density rose by 12.7 per cent between 1990 and 2015, with London up 27.6 per cent in that time.
As the UK capital is already the most densely populated part of the country at over 55 people per hectare - no other UK city is comparable except small and largely island-bound Portsmouth - further building there is likely to be increasingly of the high-rise kind as the small amount of brownfield land available is snapped up and high-density construction takes place out of necessity.