City Living

Urbanisation (the relocation of people from rural areas into urban areas) has been described as a major global trend. And it is. However, too often this is then lazily applied to the UK without a second thought. The top 50 countries in terms of rate of urbanisation are almost all African nations. Next comes Asia, and by the time you get to Europe, the rate is typically <1% pa. This is not surprising, because these countries are already well urbanised. Nevertheless, data published by Centre for Cities paints a different picture in respect of the more narrowly defined movement of people into city centres (defined as <0.8 miles from the main shopping area, or <0.6 miles in the case of smaller cities). Liverpool’s city centre population, for instance, has been growing at c.5% pa, comparable with South Sudan’s urbanisation rate. The city living revolution started in the early noughties, has been largely driven by the young, including students and young professionals. In fact, those in their 20s account for about half of all city centre residents, which in turn has led to increased demand for corresponding social amenities. The big question is whether this situation is durable. When people hit their 30s they tend to move out of the city centres. If the structural growth trend has played out, then so might we expect the growth of city centre amenity to tail off in parallel.