Census reality overtakes household estimates

The 2011 Census results released this week indicate it may be necessary for local authorities to revise housing targets upwards, writes Dan Brown.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics focussed on population levels at a national, regional and local authority level.

Results for much of the North West, particularly Greater Manchester, mimicked the trend witnessed across the South of England. The census derived that the actual population for 2011 is well in excess of the latest ONS population estimations which have, until now, been based upon 2001 census data, projected forward year-on-year taking into account factors such as births, deaths and migration.

The imbalance between population estimations and the true position could have some significant implications for future planning strategies at a number of the region's local authorities.

ONS population estimations and future projections are key pieces of evidence in planning for housing and infrastructure as well as other key development areas such as retail, leisure, education and employment. The fact that the population growth has been underestimated over such a long period means that planning and development strategies may need to be revised accordingly in the months ahead to reflect the increased growth need, which will have a significant impact on housing needs.

Figures below demonstrate that there is a clear imbalance between the census derived 'actual' population and the latest ONS estimations.

Local Authority

2010 Population Estimate (based on 2001 Census)

2011 Census Population

Difference in Population

Liverpool

445,200

466,400

21,200

Wirral

308,800

319,800

11,000

Bolton

266,500

276,800

10,300

Wigan

307,600

317,800

10,200

Trafford

217,300

226,600

9,300

Blackburn with Darwen

140,000

147,500

7,500

Cheshire East

363,800

370,100

6,300

The ONS has announced that population projections will be revised in line with the 2011 census data in the autumn of this year, which alongside the data released this week will give local authorises a clearer picture of anticipated population growth in their area.

Now that they have got a much more robust baseline to work from it will be interesting to see how many Authorities seek to revise their existing planning strategies, particularly in regard to housing development targets.

  • Dan Brown is principal planner at HOW Planning

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

Subscribe to our newsletter