November 26, 2004

Another 4million People ‘to Swamp Southern England’

THE South of England will have to make room for another four million people over the next 25 years, it emerged yesterday.

Government planners predict a population boom, fuelled by high levels of immigration, with the overwhelming majority settling in London, the rest of the South East, East Anglia and the South West.

London's population will increase 15.4 per cent by 2028, the estimates say, even though 150,000 people a year are leaving the capital for the suburbs and the countryside in a flight from poor schools and high crime levels.

The rest of the South East and East Anglia, where Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is piling on the pressure for the development of millions of 'affordable' new homes, will together have to find space for more than two million extra people.

Another big increase 16.5 per cent will come in the South West, which will be the goal for many of the growing population of retirees and younger, affluent families turning their backs on London.

The forecasts for population growth in regions of England were published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics.

National estimates were published by the ONS last month. These said that of the projected 6.1million increase in population by 2031, 3.6million will be migrants.

The Migrationwatch think-tank said that if migrants' subsequent children were added, the increase from migration would be 5.1 million.

Yesterday Sir Andrew Green, director of Migrationwatch, said that the latest ONS estimates confirmed that the impact of immigration would be felt most strongly in southern England.

He added: 'Around 85 per cent of population growth is now due to immigration.

'These new figures confirm that immigration will add significantly to overcrowding in the south.

'London and the South East are already twice as crowded as Holland, the most crowded country in Europe.' Lowest population growth in England will be in the North East, where a fall of 2 per cent is expected by 2028.

The North West will grow by 4.4 per cent, the West Midlands by 6.6 per cent, and Yorkshire by 7.4 per cent all well below the national average for England, expected to be 12.1 per cent.

The South East will, according to the projections, need to house 9.2million people by 2028 compared to 8million now. In what is termed the East of England, including Essex and Hertfordshire, numbers will rise from 5.5million to 6.4million, the estimates say.

Mr Prescott is already meeting deep resistance in counties such as Essex and Hertfordshire to his demands for new homes.

His new unelected regional planning bodies, which are meant to get them built, are increasingly unpopular.

In addition, in London the population will rise from 7.4million last year to 8.5million, the ONS said. A majority of the new Londoners are expected to be immigrants. Already three London boroughs, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Brent, have a majority non- white population.

The South West is expected to see its population grow from just under five million to 5.8million.

An ONS spokesman said: 'The projections look 25 years ahead from 2003 for the regions.

'They assume recent population trends continue and so do not reflect the impact of future development policies on the population of an area.'

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London 15.4

South East 14.1

East 16.8

South West 16.5

West Midlands 6.6

East Midlands 13.0

North West 4.4

Yorkshire/Humber 7.4

North West 2.0