Cornwall Council in its core strategy claims that over the next 20 years we need to build a minimum of 45,000 houses to meet our housing needs. This is the minimum, it would actually like to build 85,000. Why, what is this housing need.
In 2001 the total population of Cornwall was 501,300, and in 2010, 530,900 so in that period the population increased by a total of 29,600 during a time of economic growth, remember during this time, we had the strangest celebration I’ve ever heard of, Cornwall qualified for ‘Objective One’. Lets celebrate we are one of the poorest areas in Europe, millions were to be spent in the area, well we all know what happened, at the end of that time, Celebrate again, we qualify, for Convergence Funding, why, because we are one of the poorest areas in Europe. But I digress.
An increase in population of 29,600. (As a guide Shropshire, a rural county of the same size as Cornwall had an increase in population of 10,200, its 2010 population 293,400)
But as with all figures, it’s not the whole story.
Where did this increase come from? Were a lot of children born?
Well no, in the 0 = 18 age range the figures were 110,200 back in 2001 and had risen to 110,522 by 2010, a total increase of 322, so not a lot was going on during long cold nights. If this housing is for our children, they will get a lot each.
With so much economic activity going on, the numbers in working age groups must have shot up, well no, again, for the 16 – 65 age range, the population increased by a whopping 13,757.
Just a 2% increase in working age population and in here is one of the most damming set of figures of all. In the 50 -60 age range, people at the top of their profession, the senior managers, the big earners, the number living in Cornwall dropped, yes dropped by 5,300 in this same period.
So, where did all the growth come from, as we can see from the 50 – 60 age range, we did not get older and retire, we got older and left.
Yes, as expected all the big growth came in the over 60’s the number rising by 22,406, but as so many in the 50 – 60 age range left, this was not internal growth, a high percentage had to move in, and that’s the problem.
If, the economy of Cornwall remains as it is, or gets worse, the more likely, the housing need we are fulfilling is not there, the economy will not support it.
Yes, I know that many people living here can not afford to buy a house, that houses are not affordable, but they are affordable just not to us, so the problem is not a housing crisis, it’s an economic crisis and the building of thousands of homes will not and has never solved that.