Here are five maps showing how London’s population is changing

A generic photograph of London to illustrate this story about London. Image: Getty.

London’s population is changing at a rapid pace. But how much do we know about the changing face of the city? Where do new Londoners come from, and where do Londoners who leave the city go to? What are the most popular languages? Which areas are seeing the biggest influx?

To answer these burning questions and more, here are five maps which paint a picture of the Londoners of today.

Foreign arrivals

London has long been an attractive destination for people from outside the UK to come to, seeking work and opportunity.

They need a national insurance number (NINo) to legally work in this country – and registration data shows how the numbers and location of these has changed over time.

Total registrations fell 16 per cent in the last year, to just over 58,600, with a divergence in the number of EU and non-EU registrations. Though NINo registrations from the EU increased 11 per cent in the last decade, since 2014 they’ve fallen by 15 per cent. In contrast, whereas non-EU registrations have fallen by 45 per cent in the last decade, the last four years have seen an 11 per cent increase.

 

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While some areas of London have remained a hotspot for new arrivals over this whole period, others have seen their fortunes fade. Outer North and East London boroughs have seen the largest percentage declines in NINo registrations – with the highest falls in Redbridge (-27.6), Harrow (-23.5) and Newham (-22.9). Lambeth and the City fell by only -1.9 and -4.1 respectively, the lowest falls recorded.

London’s languages

With an increasingly foreign-born population residing in the capital, London’s children are more likely than ever to speak English as a second language at home. And the change has been happening faster in some areas of the city than others.

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The picture is diverse across the capital. Comparing 2017 to a decade earlier, outer London boroughs show a more significant change in the proportion of primary school students who speak English as a second language, albeit often from a low base.

Though the gap has largely narrowed by the time they reach secondary school, pupils with English as a second language (EAL) often lag behind at primary level. Language needs represent a challenge to primary teaching, particular given that many are facing funding cuts.

A growing population

Population projections – though often wrong – anticipate that London’s population will continue to grow quickly well into the middle of the century.

London’s population is undergoing significant changes, with internal population churn combining with newly arriving residents to create a patchwork of areas with falling, slowly increasing and rapidly growing populations.

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Some of the areas with highest forecast growth include along the Thames and Lee Valley in East London – where new developments are set to transform whole districts – as well as other locations across the capital where large developments will house future Londoners. While no borough is forecast to see a fall in its population over the next decade, parts of Bromley, Hillingdon and Barnet are likely to see the slowest growth.

A shifting population

While London welcomes many new arrivals each year; it also bids farewell to those departing. The next map shows where Londoners are moving from, and where they are choosing to move to. While 416,000 Londoners moved across London’s borough boundaries, 336,000 people left the capital in the last year, and only 230,000 people from the rest of their country made their home here.

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Undeterred by a 19 per cent squeeze on new starter wages since the financial crisis, university towns such as Oxford, Cambridge and Exeter, continue to feed a high number of graduates into the capital, as do Birmingham, Brighton and Bristol. The map also shows an outflow of residents from London’s suburbs, with commuter boroughs to the east of London such as Dartford and Thurrock faring the worst, with net losses of over 3,000 people.

An ageing population

While London is a young city – and will continue to be so, relative to the rest of the UK – it is growing older; with the number of people aged 65 set to grow to 1.2 million by 2024. This will have big implications for service delivery, particularly healthcare and social care, but also accessibility, with only 27 per cent of London’s tube stations currently step-free.

While all boroughs are ageing (as measured by the change in the old age dependency ratio), those to the North and West show the most significant increases. In Harrow, 15 per cent of residents are aged 65 and over, compared to just 9 per cent in Barking and Dagenham.

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Much of London policy is predicated on continued population growth. Yet London’s population grew at just 0.6 per cent in the year to mid-2017, its slowest rate in over a decade, and almost half the growth rate of the year previously.

Expectations of continued growth are reflected in yearly projections, and though the city isn’t yet shrinking, its growth is falling short of forecasts, with most recent figures 0.9 per cent lower than expected.


London’s population is in flux, yet it is far from a city of transients, with 70 per cent of Londoners living here for at least a decade – and London identity as strong as it was 40 years ago.

Erica Belcher is research assistant at Centre for London, on whose blog this article first appeared. You can follow her on Twitter, if you wish.

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Barcelona’s car-free “superblocks” could extend lives. So will they catch on elsewhere?

Barcelona. Image: Getty.

The world’s biggest cities have larger populations and higher economic outputs than some countries. But as they grow in size and complexity, cities are also facing thorny challenges that threaten the health and happiness of residents. Congestion, pollution and a lack of community spaces have become major drags on people’s aspirations and experiences of urban living.

In response, cities must manage their resources and priorities to create sustainable places for visitors and residents, and foster innovation and growth. Enter Barcelona – the capital of Catalonia, in Spain – where a bold stroke of urban planning first introduced “superblocks” in 2016.

Image: ISGlobal/FAL.

Superblocks are neighbourhoods of nine blocks, where traffic is restricted to major roads around the outside, opening up entire groups of streets to pedestrians and cyclists. The aim is to reduce pollution from vehicles, and give residents much-needed relief from noise pollution. They are designed to create more open space for citizens to meet, talk and do activities.


Health and well-being boost

There are currently only six superblocks in operation, including the first, most prominent one in Eixample. Reports suggest that – despite some early push back – the change has been broadly welcomed by residents, and the long-term benefits could be considerable.

A recent study carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health estimates that if, as planned, 503 potential superblocks are realised across the city, journeys by private vehicle would fall by 230,000 a week, as people switch to public transport, walking or cycling.

The research suggests this would significantly improve air quality and noise levels on the car-free streets: ambient levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) would be reduced by a quarter, bringing levels in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The plan is also expected to generate significant health benefits for residents. The study estimates that as many as 667 premature deaths from air pollution, noise and heat could be prevented each year. More green spaces will encourage people to get outdoors and lead a more active lifestyle.

This, in turn, helps to reduce obesity and diabetes and ease pressure on health services. The researchers claim that residents of Barcelona could expect to live an extra 200 days thanks to the cumulative health benefits, if the idea is rolled out across the city.

Space to play. Imag: Mosa Moseneke/Unsplash.

There are expected to be benefits to mental health, as well as physical health. Having access to such spaces can stave off loneliness and isolation – especially among elderly residents – as communities form stronger bonds and become more resilient.

Stumbling blocks

It was Salvador Rueda, director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, who first championed the introduction of superblocks – and he argues that the idea could be used in any city. Even so, authorities looking to expand the concept in Barcelona or beyond will need to be mindful of some concerns.

Changes like these require capital investment. Even as the car-free streets are transformed with urban furniture and greenery, the remaining major roads will likely have to accommodate heavier traffic.

Nothing comes for free. Image: Zvileve/Flickr/creative commons.

Further investments in local infrastructure – such as improving surrounding roads to deal with more traffic, or installing smart traffic management system – could be required to prevent serious congestion. Then the question remains, how to finance such investments – a higher tax rate is unlikely to be popular.


What’s more, whenever a location becomes more desirable, it leads to an increase in property demand. Higher prices and rent could create pockets of unaffordable neighbourhoods. This may lead to use of properties for investment purposes and possibly, displacement of local residents.

It’s also worth noting that Barcelona is an old and relatively well-planned European city. Different challenges exist in emerging global cities across Asia, Africa and Latin America – and in younger cities in the US and Australia. There is a great deal of variation in scale, population density, urban shape and form, development patterns and institutional frameworks across the cities. Several large cities in the developing world are heavily congested with uncontrolled, unregulated developments and weak regulatory frameworks.

Replicating what’s been done in Barcelona may prove difficult in such places, and will require much greater transformations. But it’s true that the basic principles of superblocks – that value pedestrians, cyclists and high quality public spaces over motor vehicles – can be applied in any city, with some adjustments.

Leading the way

Over the history of human civilisation, great cities have been at the forefront of innovation and social progress. But cities need a robust structure of governance, which is transparent and accountable, to ensure a fair and efficient use of resources. Imposing innovation from the top down, without consultations and buy-in, can go squarely against the idea of free market capitalism, which has been a predominant force for modern economies and can lead push-back from citizens and local businesses.

Citizens must also be willing to change their perspectives and behaviour, to make such initiatives work. This means that “solutions” to urban living like superblocks need to have buy-in from citizens, through continuous engagement with local government officials.

A man speaks at a public consultation on the Eixample superblock in Barcelona. Image: Ajuntament Barcelona/Flickr/creative commons.

Successful urban planning also needs strong leadership with a clear and consistent vision of the future, and a roadmap of how that vision can be delivered. The vision should be co-developed with the citizens and all other stakeholders such as local businesses, private and public organisations. This can ensure that everybody shares ownership and takes responsibility for the success of local initiatives.

There is little doubt that the principles and objectives of superblocks are sound. The idea has the potential to catch on around the world – though it will likely take a unique and specific form in every city.

The Conversation

Anupam Nanda, Professor of Urban Economics and Real Estate, University of Reading.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.