Are we building the right homes for residents of St Albans?

The Charrington Place development is close to St Albans City station

The Charrington Place development is close to St Albans City station - Credit: Archant

Local data analyst Sarah Teague questions whether the huge numbers of flats being built in St Albans are right for the area.

Newsom Place is one of many recent developments in St Albans

Newsom Place is one of many recent developments in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Last November I wrote an article highlighting the high proportion of flats being built in St Albans. Most established housing stock consists of detached, semi-detached and terraced houses. Why has the type of homes being built changed? Does St Albans need more flats to satisfy demand from increasing numbers of smaller households?

The census is the nationwide survey that takes place every 10 years and contains a wealth of demographic information. Exploring the results of this survey we can investigate the changing profile of St Albans.

The number of newbuild flats in St Albans has increased dramatically in recent years

The number of newbuild flats in St Albans has increased dramatically in recent years - Credit: Archant

Analysing the proportion of homes by accommodation type we discover the observation above is correct - most of the housing stock (74 per cent) consists of detached, semi-detached and terraced houses and 26 per cent are flats. The data also supports findings in my previous article - flats experienced the largest growth in numbers.

Has the increase in flats been matched by an increase in smaller household sizes?

Information on household composition shows that 41 per cent of households consist of families with children and 54 per cent are couples and one person households. However, the greatest increase was in families with dependent children, closely followed by families with non-dependent children.

Household composition also changed a lot between 2001-11

Household composition also changed a lot between 2001-11 - Credit: Archant


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With 54% couples and one person households, increasing the percentage of flats in our housing stock seems sensible. However, when families with children are growing at the fastest rate, larger homes also need to be built. If most newly built properties are flats (90% since 2015 by my analysis), this puts pressure on the price of larger established properties and means some families move into flats.

Demographic changes are nuanced and happen slowly, but there are signs that the shift towards flats is increasing higher density living in St Albans - census data on persons per room for those living in flats shows increasing proportions with high numbers of people per room.

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There is a need for more smaller housing - such as flats - in St Albans, both to preserve our green belt and to suit an aging population. However, we must also build properties that suit the needs of the large numbers of families with children that choose to live in St Albans.

The occupancy of flats has also changed, with the number of people per room increasing

The occupancy of flats has also changed, with the number of people per room increasing - Credit: Archant

Sarah Teague is a freelance data analyst, and can be contacted on steague@ehanalysis.com.

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