How “Millennials” are driving an urban renaissance

listening to music on street-2Young, single, well-educated, well-paid professionals, part of the so-called Generation Y, are driving the resurgence in city centre populations across England and Wales. And while the growth in this group has been slower in London due to the struggle with property prices the heart of the capital has seen an increase by a third in people in their 20s over 10 years.

The growth of city centres is revealed in a study by the research institute the Centre for Cities that looked at 59 cities, including London. While the capital shares many of the findings for other large cities its economy and jobs market mean it has some unique characteristics

City centre residents tend to be better educated and more likely to be managers or senior professionals than those living in the suburbs or the commuter hinterland around a city. This is particularly the case in London. While 37% of city centre dwellers have a university degree in London it is 50%. And two thirds of London’s city centre residents are senior managers, compared to around half in other large cities.

The study says that the “urban renaissance” is being driven by people who want to live near to the amenities that city centre living offers such as being in walking distance to work, cultural attractions and surrounded by other young professionals. But they have to pay a premium to live there.

In the centre of London the high cost of property is acting as a block on the millennial generation. As a result, unlike other cities, it has a similar number of people in the 30-44 age bracket as 20-29. But it is the younger group that has seen the biggest growth.

London’s City Centre Population
Age 0-19 20-29 30-44 45-64 65+ Total
Population 2001 51,338 58,767 67,524 46,012 27,697 251,338
Population 2011 54,660 78,473 78,606 55,782 27,387 294,908
% Change 6.4 33.5 16.4 21.2 -1.1 17.3
cent city-2
Map courtesy of Centre for Cities

The study defined the city centre of London as the area within a 2-mile radius of Holborn and used the census data on small neighbourhoods within boroughs inside this area. (see map)

The study says that the high cost of property within this area has led to a spill over of young professionals into the surrounding suburbs in a way not seen in other cities.

Home ownership is lower in all city centres than suburban areas and the availabily of social housing in the defined area of central London makes social rental a common option.

Most city centre residents live in flats not houses. This is the case for 75% of people in city centres nationally, but 90% in London, according to the study.

London also has a higher proportion of residents born outside the UK than other cities, 45% compared to 35% elsewhere.

Car use, or the lack of it, is the other thing that sets London apart. Cars are used by fewer than a quarter of people for journeys to work in city centres but by only 8% of residents in the centre of London. London has greater use of public transport, bicycles and more Londoners walk to work.

See also

Urban chic or leafy charm? Inner city rentals catch up with affluent areas

More homes packed into built up inner city as growth stalls in outer areas

Jobs concentrated in just 5 of London’s 33 boroughs