Migration out of London affects more distant parts of wider South East than previously thought

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The FINANCIAL — The growing demand for housing in London is, via a ‘ripple effect’, boosting population growth in more distant parts of the Wider South East – a super-region stretching from Norfolk to Hampshire and from Oxford to Kent – says new research from LSE.

The researchers show that the movement of people from the centre of London to the suburbs encourages residents there to move a bit further out themselves. This process repeats itself until the ‘current’ of outward movement reaches areas with fewer constraints on new building.

The main effects of the overspill from London are not felt in the outer metropolitan ring, just outside of the capital, as has previously been thought. This is because of the tight planning constraints on building extra housing there.

The basic driver of the shift of population out from London has been an increasing demand for living space, both because of the rising real incomes of existing residents, and from new international arrivals seeking homes in the capital. While, the first of these has weakened substantially since the early 2000s (well before the financial crisis), the second has become more important – although the immediate impacts on migration out of London have been limited by many recent migrants accepting crowded living conditions.

The researchers emphasise the major uncertainties about the strength of each of these factors in the future.

Professor Ian Gordon, Emeritus Professor in Human Geography and lead author of the study, said: “The links between increasing housing demand in London and patterns of population change right across the Wider South East are clearer and stronger than previously believed. But how strong these effects are in different areas could really change a lot. We now need a more concerted effort to monitor how patterns of population movement in this region are evolving to see both what development plans have to cope with, and the differences they might make”.

The study was commissioned by the East of England Local Government Association in order to help develop a common understanding across the Wider South East of factors impinging on strategic planning issues, including those involved in accommodating the large population growth envisaged in the new draft London Plan (currently out for consultation).


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