Monday, 18 July 2016

13,000 houses based on the wrong population figures

Wrexham Council's Local Development Plan intends to permit 13,000 houses to be built in the borough in the next decade to cope with the anticipated 20% growth in population in coming years.

These population figures are projections - i.e. guesswork - by civil servants. Plaid Cymru's contention is that these projections are flawed because they do not take into consideration the unique circumstances that have affected Wrexham in the past decade. 

We now have proof that the anticipated population boom is not happening now and, given the economic uncertainty locally, is unlikely to happen in the coming decade.

The following net migration figures into Wrexham from the UK and from outside the UK are for the past 10 years:

                            Net int’l                            Net migration                                  Total net migration 
Year                    migration                       (from other parts of the UK)           into Wrexham
2003-4                   102                                         224                                            326
2004-5                   203                                         214                                            417
2005-6                   680                                         408                                          1088
2006-7                   571                                         386                                            957
2007-8                   663                                         308                                            971
2008-9                   866                                         -40                                             826
2009-10                595                                         -36                                              559
2010-11                431                                         259                                             690
2011-12                400                                         -44                                              356
2012-13                471                                         -362                                            109
2013-14                145                                         -114                                              31

In that decade, the borough’s population has risen from 129,000 to 136,000. Remember that this was a time of exceptional growth due to a housing boom, high employment, migration due to the EU accession states, the formation and expansion of Glyndwr University and Chester protecting its greenbelt.

What we can say with some certainty is that – based on evidence not population projections - Wrexham’s population is not now growing at anything like the rate it was 10 years ago. Back then it rose by almost 1,000 a year prior to the economic crash. In fact the last year of stats show a net growth of just 31.

Yet Wrexham’s Local Development Plan is planning to permit 13,000 extra houses for the borough based on these Welsh Government population projections. These projections have no basis in reality. Rather than building unwanted houses on greenfield sites, what we need to be doing now is ensuring that the 2,500 empty properties in the borough are brought back into use by encouraging landlords to sell/let them or ensuring the council gets its act together.

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