Wednesday, January 11, 2006

City demographics

A new study from the IPPR on the demographics of regenerated city centres - in this case, Manchester, Liverpool and Dundee. The findings are unsurprising:

People living in the centre of cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Dundee are twice as likely to be single as the average Briton. Around two thirds are aged 18 to 34, compared with a quarter nationally. Half the people of working age living in Liverpool’s city centre are students. More than one third of working residents in Manchester and Liverpool city centres walk to work, compared to a national average around one in 10.
There is a ‘conveyor belt effect’ in city centres, with most people staying only a few years. A third of residents move in or out each year, around three times higher than the national average.

The main reason these young urban things move out is because they want more space, security and facilities as they pair off and start families. The IPPR recommends that development should now be focused on what it calls the 'inner ring neighbourhoods' surrounding the city centres, and leaving the centres to the young. Urban Splash's Tom Bloxham, who is backing this new research, is already attempting this in the New Islington development in Manc (see below) - but one question is where does the city centre end and this inner ring begin? In places like Leeds, Manc or Sheffield, the stack-em-high 'urban living'-style developments are already stretching several miles outside what I'd consider the centre.

I think there's a lesson to be learnt from cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, where demographically mixed city living in the once-grim tenements is an established fact - mostly because they never suffered the post-war desertion of the city centres that happened in many English cities.

And what, precisely, is the difference between the young, trendy, bar-hopping young professionals of the IPPR report, and the much-maligned binge drinker?



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