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UK population growth affects our quality of life

A new report by the Royal Institute of British Architects1 confirms the impact of population growth on the way we live.

England has the highest population density of any large European country, and is one of the world’s most crowded countries.  It also has a high current population growth rate, running at its highest for fifty years and accounting for one third of European growth.  It is estimated that there could be another ten million people living in Britain by 2030.  As a result, land prices are high, properties are expensive and our new homes and room sizes are some of the smallest in Europe.

Now research into people’s housing needs from RIBA confirms that this is not how people want to live.   Seven of the eight principal findings about people’s needs relate directly to living space.  These stated needs comprise: storage space; space for domestic utility tasks; large windows, large rooms and high ceilings i.e. a “sense of space”; a large main living area; private personal space; private outside space or access to a green public area, and; options to change home layouts.  In contrast, the experience of many people is cramped conditions and insufficient space to live comfortably.   Government figures2 show that over a million children live in overcrowded conditions.

Commented Simon Ross, Population Matters chief executive: “In principle, we can build many more, larger homes, at great cost to our wildlife, amenities and natural heritage.  However, the only long term and sustainable answer to meeting people’s needs for living space is to reduce and then reverse population growth so that we have a population sizes at a level that can be comfortably housed.  We call on the government to adopt or continue policies which promote both smaller families and lower net migration.”

1The way we live now – RIBA 2012
2Household Characteristics, Live Tables, Table 813