Over the last decade the birth rate has continued to rise adding ever more pressure on Colchester’s green belt land and the already overstretched Colchester property market.
3.11 babies were born for every new home built in the Colchester Council area during 2016. Inevitably this means more demand for housing and, along with other reasons I’ve looked at in recent posts, explains why Colchester rents and Colchester property prices have remained resilient, and look set to do so, even against a background of economic uncertainty.
The ratio of births to new homes has reached one its highest levels since 1945
In the early 1970’s the ratio of births to new homes was around 1.5, less than half today’s figures! Taking a closer look at the Colchester Council area birth rates, the latest figures show there was an average of 60.5 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. That’s slightly lower than the 61.7 national average and well below the regional birth rate of 64.7 births per 1,000 women aged between 15 to 44. In other age ranges the number of births from local women, aged between 20 and 29, are close to the national average with births to local women aged between 35 and 44 were slightly below the national average.
It doesn’t matter how you present the stats when you bear in mind:
- The birth rate is still increasing
- We’re living longer
- People are still moving into the Colchester area
- High divorce rates (slighty down but still high) mean one household becomes two households
The bottom line is more demand for housing in Colchester. The only way to address that is to build more properties in Colchester, both to buy and to rent, given Generation Rent Forever have no intention to buy their own homes. The local authority planners and politician’s, along with central Government, need to take all these factors on board and get building.
Should We Build on Green Belt Land?
Despite public perception the United Kingdom is not overcrowded. The UK ranks 51st for population density, we’re less crowded than Japan, Holland and Belgium and only slightly more crowded than Germany. Take a look at the land use list below and you’ll see just 1.1% of the countryside it made up of housing:
- 1.1% Residential Houses and Flats
- 4.3% Gardens
- 0.7% Shops and Offices
- 2.3% Highways (roads and paths)
- 0.1% Railways
- 2.6% Water (rivers and reservoirs)
- 1.4% Industry (including military and other uses)
There’s room! I’m not suggesting we build tower blocks in the Castle park or Highwoods country park but we do have to take an even-handed look at the hallowed green belt land around the outskirts of Colchester and the surrounding villages. There have been some large developments, with more underway, but nowhere near enough to meet demand. I should add my own garden backs onto green belt land so I fully understand the NIMBY mentality and resistance to change!
Of course, there are brownfield sites that haven’t been built on but many, like the huge development in the Hythe, have or are in the process of being developed. Many brownfield sites are contaminated so they’re only financially viable to develop with complementary public investment – basically the Government has to invest taxpayers money otherwise they won’t be built on.
I’m not advocating large housing developments on green belt land nor suggesting we ignore the challenge of building on brown field sites, instead, as a society, I believe we need to look beyond the leisure and visual appeal of green belt land and find ways to make sure Colchester and the surrounding villages can meet the housing challenge and remains a place people want to live for future generations.
Please send your thoughts about green belt land and brownfield sites on a Colchester picture postcard or your local village. Alternatively you can save the envelope, paper and postage stamp and give me ring on 01206 862288, add your comments below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any aspect of the Colchester property market. I look forward to reading your thoughts.