Has the sizw of the East Dulwich population started to impact the lives of East Dulwich residents? There are simply not enough homes in East Dulwich to house the greater number of people wanting to live in the area. It is clear to see that some public services are unable to cope with the population numbers. Many parents are unable to send their children to their first choice of school, while dentists and doctors in popular areas are also over-subscribed.
This is the picture, according to the papers. However, we all know that we shouldn’t believe everything we read, so let’s look at real numbers. To start with, the UK has roughly 1,065 people per square mile – the second highest in Europe. The total area of East Dulwich itself is 1.405 square miles, and there are 29,738 East Dulwich residents, meaning that…
21,100 people live in each square mile of East Dulwich, it’s hardly surprising that there is barely room to move!
That said, it should be noted that a square mile is a large area, and therefore these numbers have the potential to sound more dramatic than they actually are. In East Dulwich, only 30.15 people live on every acre. If I am honest, this figure doesn’t seem too bad.
However, this does not mean that the wider issue of a chronic shortage of homes has gone away. The inescapable truth is, we need more homes in the UK, whether they are built or created from existing housing stock.
The Blair government established a target of 240,000 new homes in order to keep pace with the growth in population. The Tory’s introduced a new target in 2010, of a more modest 200,000 homes a year (42,000 of this total is for London). Since 2010, in the UK, we have only been achieving numbers of between 140,000 and 150,000 houses a year. The burning question is, where will these new homes be built, where will the space come from?
During some research into a Government report, focusing on the housing situation in England, I discovered that the 20 million English homes cover only 1.1% of the English land mass. That is not a mistake, 1.1% is the correct figure. Specifically, the figures look like this:
• Residential Houses and Flats 1.1%
• Shops and Offices 0.7%
• Highways (Roads and Paths) 2.3%
• Railways 0.1%
• Water (Rivers /Reservoirs) 2.6%
• Industry, Military and other uses 1.4%
This leaves 88.5% as Countryside, add in gardens and we find that 92.8% of the country is greenspace. On the basis of these figures, we have a lot of space for new homes, but in East Dulwich and London as a whole space is more limited.
For this, we need to look to alternative solutions not just looking for new build homes to fill the gap.
For every home built in London, there are 130 existing, 30 of which have two or more empty bedrooms. Past attempts at increasing density of occupation have used the stick approach: through taxes to penalise social tenants, despite the fact that only 6 percent of under-occupied households in London are in social housing; or schemes to push out ‘empty nesters’, which risk breaking social networks and threatening inheritances (source Architects Journal).
Indeed, 5 million homes need to be built over the next 20 years. I am by no means suggesting that we build massive housing estates next to local beauty spots, but we do need some clever planning and collaborative thinking on the part of local councils and other interested parties, when it comes to the question of how we are going to build enough new homes for our children over the next 50 years. If anyone has their own ideas, I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime, long term property prices will remain in a upward trend as property supply remains restricted. If you would like to know more about the East Dulwich Property Market feel free to give me a call.