What does population growth mean in terms of growth in households and houses?

Household sizes have been gradually reducing over the years as the population ages and as families have fewer children.

From the 2011 census  figures for the South West  it is possible to estimate that about 33% (one third) of households comprise a single person, about 20% (a fifth) comprise families of just two and the remaining 47% comprise families of three or more

Currently it is  estimated that  across the UK there are 2.4 individuals per household.

For local planning purposes EDDC uses a lower average of 2.2 individuals per household.

Over the past eight years the average number of dwellings completed in East Devon is 918 per year. For the purposes of housing monitoring, generally, a dwelling is defined as being a separately Council Tax banded property. 

In East Devon, the ONS estimates that population size has increased by 13.8%, from around 132,500 in 2011 to 150,800 in 2021, an increase of 18,300. 

Assuming 2.2 individuals/household means that around 8,318 households must have been created in the ten year period, implying house building averaging around 830/year. This is close to the recorded dwelling completion rate and indicates that local household occupancy rate is below the national average, as you might expect for a retirement area.

During the development of the 2015 Local Plan it was estimated that only around 580 houses/year would be required to satisfy purely demographic growth trends. 

The Old Guard’s “build, build, build” policy was based on a high economic “jobs-led” growth scenario of around 3% that simply hasn’t materialised. It required a build rate of 900 houses/year minimum.

If this economic growth hasn’t materialised then it begs the question of who is occupying these properties? We know that, locally, housing demand is running ahead of need.

Has the excess development over demographic needs estimated by the ONS been taken up by homes for retirement, for second homes (estimated at 4% in 2018 and rising) or for housing to satisfy Exeter’s needs? 

Are there any clues in the changes in age profiles in East Devon?

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