Philip Barnes – Blog

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So what does Census 2011 mean for the North East?

Census 2011 now gives us a true picture of the actual levels of population growth between 2001 and 2011.

 The graph below provides a summary of the growth in the number of households in each North East authority over the period 2001-2011.  It demonstrates that the highest proportionate increases have been experienced by:

    – Darlington (11.2%)

    – CountyDurham (8.1%)

    – North Tyneside (7.4%)

The smallest rates of population growth over the period were observed in:

    – Middlesbrough (0.4%)

    – Sunderland (1.5%)

    – South Tyneside (1.8%)

So no surprises there.  The more affluent places where more people want to live have attracted the greatest population growth.


The second graph below, illustrates which authorities have actually grown at a faster rate than the Government anticipated (under the Government’s 2008-based projections).  The projections are estimates of future population levels using the 2011 Census as a baseline. They are based  (between Census’) on data regarding issues such as births, deaths, NHS doctor registrations  and arrivals at  ports and airports. The 2011 Census shows  that a number of authorities now have a higher number of actual households than previously forecast in the 2008-based mid-year population estimates.  In particular:

    – Darlington (3.3% above the 2008-based projections)

    – Gateshead (2.8% above the 2008-based projections)

    – Redcar & Cleveland (1.7% above the 2008-based projections)

In these places the current working estimates of future housing requirements will inevitably be too low given recent population performance.

Conversely, those authorities recording the greatest actual underperformance against 2008-based projected household growth figures are:

    – Newcastle (-4.4%)

    – Middlesbrough (-3.4%)

    – South Tyneside (-2.9%)

For these areas, actual population growth has been much lower than the 2008 – based Government forecasts.  In such locations it is necessary to consider whether lower build rates have contributed to lower population performance in recent years.


The tables below are perhaps the most interesting of all.  NLP have correlated actual housing growth against actual housing delivery.  We have done this by measuring housebuilding performance towards RSS target housing numbers and then comparing against actual population growth (as recorded by the Census 2011).  Guess what, the four authorities with the greatest under performance against RSS numbers all fell within the bottom five in terms of percentage population growth.  It is therefore clear that the population performance of some of the regions largest urban areas has been directly held down by the inability of the planning system to release sufficient land in market-friendly locations.  Pre-recession plans, reliant upon housing output on questionable brownfield sites in poor market locations have not delivered.  This has then resulted in population decline as younger middle/upper income households move out to find better housing, leaving behind an older population with fewer economically active residents.

More analysis will follow here  over the coming weeks.  A clear understanding of the new Census data will be a key issue for the formulation of planning and housingdocuments over the next few months and years.  One thing seems sure:  the less an area builds, the lower its population performance and income base.  Newcastle, Redcar, Sunderland and Middlesbrough – please take note.