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New ONS adjustment should mean fewer new homes for Guildford

29th May 2014

On 29th May 2014, the Office for National Statistics published revised population projections for the period 2012 to 2037. Initial reading shows that, whereas under the data on which the SHMA was published, the population would have risen from 137,580 (2011) to 156,299 (2021), the new data shows this to be rising to 151,439 (2021).  This suggests a reduction from 1.28% to 0.964% per year. 

The impact on housing numbers is complex because it depends upon household formation rates within the local demographic profile, but, crudely, this might suggest the SHMA figure of 780 should be reduced to around 590 homes (780*0.964/1.28). The longer term projections take population forecasting out to 2037 and suggest the Borough population would have risen to 165,792 (a 20.5% increase from 2011 levels over 26 years - an average projected annual increase of 0.72%).


Guildford's current households number in the region of 54,000 and at 0.72% (assuming household formation rates are consistent across the existing supply and the future need - which is unlikely to be the case due to our need for an increase in smaller housing units to fit our demographic profile) this would suggest a long term number of 388 homes per year.


THIS IS VERY BASIC ANALYSIS AND DOES NOT PRETEND TO TAKE THE PLACE OF A PROPER PROFESSIONAL MODELLING EXERCISE.

The Guildford Society has advocated a target number of 345 homes - due in part to population trends and partly to existing supply constraints governed mainly by Special Protection Areas and Green Belt designations and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Further detailed analysis will be prepared over the coming weeks to seek to inform the discussion and debate from a perspective of good data.  The Guildford Society would also wish to establish whether the anomalies identified in earlier studies (on this site and in the Guildford Society representations), and acknowledged by the Director General of the Office for National Statistics in his letter to Anne Milton, have been fully resolved.  Early indications are that adjustment has been made to the assumption of students remaining in Guildford after qualification at the University of Surrey.


On the face of it, some allowance has been made. A reduction in population from ages 19 to 30 or so also leads to a reduction in 'fertility' numbers and a consequent reduction in the number of births and under-tens. The reduction in 19-30s is important (not just numerically overall) because this is the age group that feeds most into affordable housing numbers, and household formation numbers.


Equally, the demands on infrastructure will change due to the pattern - fewer than previously projected school places would be required, for example.


This is a really quick overview of the new data and should not be treated as in any way an empirical assessment.