Urban Update 6 November 2015

Download Urban Update 6 November 2015


Why people choose to live where they do

Urban Demographics – why people live where they do’,  a new report by the Centre for Cities,shows that despite concerns about high rents, poor air quality and a lack of green space, young professionals are increasingly choosing to live in UK city centres – with the number of residents aged 20-29 in large-city centres nearly tripling between 2001-2011

Using Yougov poll data, the report identifies the main reasons why respondents chose to live in their neighbourhood, including, growing up there, to be close to places of work or friends and family, and the cost of housing.

The least favourite neighbourhood characteristics at different stages in life include the cost of housing (particularly for the 24-35 age group), neighbours, living too far away from friends and family, and the availability of public transport.  People’s preferences for where they live change as they get older. The amenity offer of city centres matches more closely young people’s preferences – such as good access to leisure, culture and the workplace. Suburbs provide the space and the houses needed by families. And rural hinterlands offer the access to countryside and green spaces that over 55s have a strong preference for – something that grows through life.  So people tend to move from the city centre outward as they age. But this movement, crosses the local authority boundaries in which housing, transport and public services are typically planned.

The report has five key policy recommendations:

1. Planning strategically across city regions

People live out their lives across city regions and need different things from different places. Integrating housing, transport and public services requires strategic planning and transport powers at combined authority level, similar to those granted in London and Manchester.  

2. Putting economic development at the heart of regeneration strategies

City centre regeneration strategies have often focused on physical and cultural development - but these alone do not provide the things that people need from the places where they live. Economic development needs to be at the heart of any successful city centre regeneration strategy.

3. Extending Permitted Development Exclusion Zones

In growing city centres, meeting increasing demand for both office space and housing will be crucial for supporting growth. Extending Permitted Development Exclusion Zones into more high demand city centres would help to retain the balance between valuable office space and housing.

4. Maximising student presence in city centres

Student populations in city centres can play a role in supporting local amenities. Universities in places that have a struggling city centre should review their property portfolios and increase their presence in the city centre where possible – either through city centre campuses or new student accommodation.

5. Mitigating the drawbacks of city centre life: managing pollution and open spaces

City centre residents accept high pollution and few green spaces in order to enjoy city centre living. But these drawbacks could become deterrents and hold back growth. Cities will need to do more to improve quality – by reducing emissions through sustainable transport strategies, and by actively incorporating parks and open spaces in new developments.


Full report