Huge hike in population for St Albans over next 20 years

Crowds of people on St Peter's Street

Crowds of people on St Peter's Street - Credit: Archant

The population of St Albans will be boosted by over 27,000 people within the next two decades – 1,400 more than anticipated in previous projections.

The expected 19 per cent increase has prompted the district council to allow for more homes to be built in its planning blueprint.

While its draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP) suggests 436 homes should be built each year to keep pace with an expanding population, the council now considers 444 houses to be a more appropriate figure.

Official figures released at a recent council planning committee meeting also showed that the area’s age profile would change between 2012 and 2032.

The greatest increases will be in the oldest age groups, when the need for housing with care rises: by over one-third in those aged 65-74, almost 40 per cent in those aged 75-84 and a doubling of the number of those aged 85 and over.

Independent consultants from Housing Vision updated councillors on the area’s future growth using revised and new 2011 census data.

St Albans’ population at the last census was 140,600 – 8.8 per cent higher than in 2001.

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In a report they said that the number of locals aged under 15 (20.1 per cent) and between 45-54 (11.5 per cent) would be larger than previously reported in 2010 projections for the council – formerly 17.2 and 9.5 per cent respectively.

They warned that the high projected growth in the older population, aged from 65, would result in a higher level of under-occupation of family housing unless options to downsize were available.

The consultants said that when it came to determining future housing need, “the operation of housing markets was like a complex version of musical chairs as people move between homes and sectors within the limits of the supply available”.

Constraints included the willingness of landowners to provide sites and developers to build a range of homes, with St Albans’ Green Belt location adding to this difficulty.

The consultants added: “We can be confident we have the evidence to demonstrate that household numbers and housing needs in the district will grow, but we cannot be certain of the precise pattern of growth and its housing consequences.”

After the meeting planning portfolio holder Cllr Julian Daly said that councillors agreed that paving the way for 444 homes to be built annually through the SLP was a wiser figure, in line with updated population trend predictions.

The council had previously suggested 436 was an appropriate projection on which to base the SLP, based on consultants’ reports back in 2013.

Cllr Daly said that “436 homes per annum is no longer appropriate but we are not making a major change to the plan as the figure isn’t markedly different and we do have to make tweaks.”