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City Centre Populations Have Surged by up to 181% Since 2002

Young professionals have driven new migration back into the UK’s cities

Liverpool City Centre Population Growth

UK city centres have seen their populations grow by as much as 181% in the last 20 years, as a change in homeownership attitudes drives individuals back to living in the cities.


Research from Centre for Cities and published by the BBC, has revealed that the growing desire for highly-paid and highly-skilled job roles, as well as the desire to be close to amenities, has made city living the number one choice for many.


Motivated predominantly by single young professionals prioritising the prestige and salary behind their job roles, the research found that the creation of job roles in city centres has created a market for the formation of gyms, restaurants, bars and shops, luring people back from the suburbs.


Comparing population data from 2002 and 2015, the research found that Liverpool has been home to the most significant rate of increase, with the population of the city swelling by 181% from 9,100 to 25,600 over the period.


The city was followed by Birmingham, where the population increased by 163%, and then Leeds, the surge in those living in the city was 150%.

Rounding out the top five cities were Manchester, which saw an increase of 149%, and Bradford, where resident numbers rose by 146%.


London was home to the largest volume of new residents, with 58,500 electing to move into the city. However, this only amounted to an increase of 22%.


‘Only 30 years ago inner-city populations that had grown rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries had dwindled – the residents leaving cramped, urban housing for more spacious suburbs and new towns,’ said Paul Swinney and Andrew Carter, from the Centre for Cities.


‘The reversal that has taken place – especially in the north of England and the Midlands – demonstrates a dramatic urban renaissance and a shift in how people want to live,’ they continued.


Last month, the British Property Foundation (BPF) highlighted the demand for rental properties in regional cities, as construction of Build-to-Rent developments in these areas continued to outpace London.

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