Saturday 28 March 2015 1.33am
There are a lot of threads on this site discussing housing, property development, and the changing population of SE1. There are also a lot of opinions on the topic, but relatively few facts (I know, I know, never let facts get in the way of a good story…). Just the same, I thought it would be useful to post a few facts as a basis for some of the discussions. [NB: The numbers are generally from government sites, namely the gov.uk statistical data sets, Southwark Council
statistics, and London Councils
- The population of London is the largest it has ever been at 8.6 million. It has increased by 30% (an additional 2.1 million people) since the latest low point in 1991 (24 years ago), and is forecast to increase by 16% (an additional 1.4 million people) in the next 15 years.
- The population of Inner London is 3.3 million, which is only 2/3 of the 5.0 million strong population of Inner London a hundred years ago.
- The density of Inner London is 26,000/sq mile, while Greater London has a density of 13,500/sq mile. Manhattan has a density of 71,200/sq mile (NYC: 27,900/sq mile) and Kowloon has a density of 111,500/sq mile (Hong Kong: 17,000).
- The current population of Southwark is estimated at around 310,000. It has increased by 27% (an additional 65,000 people) in the last 15 years, and is forecast to increase by 15% (an additional 40,000 people) in the next 15 years.
- The housing stock in Southwark increased from 110,000 to 126,000 between 2004 and 2013.
- The number of vacant dwellings in Southwark decreased from 4,400 to 2,700 between 2004 and 2013.
I suppose the point is that Southwark (and London in general) has grown substantially in the past couple of decades, and this growth is expected to continue. SE1 is a very different place now than it was 15 years ago and will be a very different place again in 15 years. We can either (1) accept the change and find a way to accommodate the continued growth or (2) vote UKIP and hope they ban all immigration and reverse the trend (although to be fair UKIP’s policy is to implement an uncapped points-based immigration policy, so even the most extreme situation is unlikely to stem the tide).
The FT had an article this week (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4129abaa-cf16-11e4-893d-00144feab7de.html#ixzz3VdauEwxe) setting out the views of some political parties (James, hope it’s ok to quote a credited FT article?):
“Labour’s Lord Adonis has proposed that London council estates should be demolished in order to build swaths of new houses for sale. Knocking down existing council housing would give the opportunity to build “mixed communities” that would function as “city villages”, the Labour peer said in a report.
Lord Adonis will argue that demolishing existing neighbourhoods and rebuilding at higher densities — including homes for sale at open market prices — can create a net increase in housing without needing any funding from the state. The former cabinet minister believes that existing tenants could be housed in new properties on the site. “The scale of council-owned land is vast and greatly under-appreciated,” Lord Adonis said. “There are particularly large concentrations of council-owned land in inner London, and this is some of the highest-priced land in the world.” London councils own on average 25 to 30 per cent of the land in their boroughs, the report said. Southwark Council
, for example, owns 43 per cent of the land it governs, while Islington owns about a third.
The Tories are expected to revive Margaret Thatcher’s Right To Buy policy in their election manifesto by offering to expand the policy from council houses to housing associations. Right to Buy is popular with many voters but has been blamed for worsening the shortage of social housing in Britain, with many of the sold properties not replaced.”
Well, that’s a lot of info to digest. Given the facts, what do we do as SE1ers to keep SE1 an amazing place to live but deal with the population and cash influx? Discuss! (I’ll share my views as well, but I’ve probably written enough tonight…)