Census suggests green belt used unnecessarily for housing,

Green belt land might have been torn up for housing unnecessarily, campaigners imagine, just after the 2021 census recommended populace expansion in many regions has been overestimated – in some cases by tens of hundreds of men and women.

But the census also uncovered other estimates ended up far much too lower – by up to 16% – which means local politicians now facial area strain to allocate far more land for houses than beforehand anticipated.

The discrepancies make any difference simply because formal population estimates are employed to job housing need to have and creating targets. They are most likely to be seized on by campaigners for equally much more and significantly less new housing. About 340,000 new houses are wanted just about every 12 months in England, in accordance to just one estimate, although 216,000 were being developed in 2019-20, the very last calendar year for which comprehensive figures are accessible.

In Coventry, the ONS had approximated the inhabitants at 379,387 but the census recorded only 345,300 individuals – a 34,000 difference. Campaigners said this meant some of the not long ago built housing around the town was in result remaining planned for “ghosts”.

“The best remaining parts of unspoiled Arden landscape in Warwickshire have been sacrificed for no great reason,” mentioned Merle Gering, a campaigner. “There was ample brownfield land in the metropolis to cater for all the possible growth to 2031.”

Guildford was estimated to be home to 150,352 people in June 2020 but the census showed it had pretty much 7,000 fewer the next March. The council experienced centered a housebuilding focus on of 562 houses a yr on ONS inhabitants projections, carried out in advance of the census.

“My problem is that substantial locations of the green belt all over Guildford have been allotted for improvement centered on inaccurate and misleading statistics,” explained Niels Laub, a member of the Guildford inexperienced belt marketing campaign group. “Housing targets need to be reappraised.”

The census will also raise stress for better housing targets in some places. Before the populace depend was printed, Cambridge metropolis council and South Cambridgeshire district council launched a joint strategy to build 33,500 further houses by 2031. But the census confirmed that the 2020 ONS inhabitants estimate for Cambridge town of 125,063 was 20,637 folks short, suggesting many additional homes may perhaps now be needed.

The council stated: “It is critical for additional good high quality, sustainable housing to be constructed in the region, which is why this carries on to be a precedence for equally councils as they prepare their following joint local prepare.”

The ONS estimates for Peterborough also missed a lot more than 13,000 people today, and in Oxford far more than 10,000 men and women were being missed.

A spokesperson for ONS stated it envisioned discrepancies in between the census and its estimates and that it would “rebase” its figures employing the census knowledge. It mentioned it was also scheduling a new solution making use of diverse information resources.

“The inhabitants proceeds to transform and we recognise the need to have to have an understanding of those people ongoing variations in a a lot more well timed and recurrent way than at any time right before,” they claimed.

In 2020, MPs in Warwickshire known as for an inquiry into the ONS estimates, telling Sir David Norgrove, the chair of the Uk Statistics Authority, that “bad selections – to irrevocably demolish historic countryside – are remaining designed on the back again of undesirable information.”

In 2021 the Business for Data Regulation concluded: “Population estimates for some cities these types of as Coventry did appear to be to be inconsistent with, and potentially higher than, area proof would counsel.”

The identical challenge was seen in “a quantity of more compact towns with large scholar populations”, it said.