11,300 People Live In Every Square Mile Of Rochester – Is Rochester Over Crowded?

Medway is already in the clutches of a population crisis that has now started to affect the quality of life of those living in Medway. There are simply not enough homes in Medway to house the greater number of people wanting to live in the area. The burden on public services is almost at breaking point with many parents unable to send their child to their first choice of primary or secondary school and the chances of getting a decent Dentist or GP Doctor Surgery next to nil.

Do you ever feel a little cramped for space?!

At least that is what the tabloid papers would say. As my regular readers know, I do like to look at the numbers behind the headlines. So, lets look at my specialist subject; the housing market in Medway. To start with, the UK has roughly 1,065 people per square mile – the second highest in Europe. The total area of Rochester itself is 5.559 square miles and there are 62,900 Rochester residents, meaning that:

11,300 people live in each square mile of Rochester, it’s no wonder we appear to be bursting at the seams!

Yet again, newspapers, politicians and property market bloggers quote big numbers to sell more newspapers, get elected or get people to read their blog (and yes I recognise the irony here). A square mile is enormous, so the numbers look correspondingly large (and headline grabbing). Most people reading this will know what an acre is, but for my younger readers who don’t, it is an imperial unit of measurement for land and it is approximately 63 metres square.

In Rochester, only 16.14 people live in every acre of Rochester. Whilst this is not as headline grabbing, this fact feels closer to everyday life, and if I am being honest, a figure that does not seem all that bad. After all, a square mile is 1600 metres by 1600 metres...

Yet, the issue at hand is, we need more homes building. In 2007, Tony Blair set a target that 240,000 homes a year needed to be built to keep up with the population growth. The Tory’s new target since 2010 was a more modest 200,000 a year. However, since 2010, as a country, we have only been building between 140,000 and 150,000 houses a year. So where are we going to build these homes, because we have no space! Or do we?

Well, let me tell you this fascinating piece of information I found out recently in an official Government report. Looking specifically at England (as it is the most densely populated countryof the Union), all the 20 million English homes cover only 1.1% of its land mass. That is not a typo, only one point one per cent (1.1%) of land in England is covered by residential property. In more detail, of all the land in the Country:

·      Residential Houses and Flats 1.1%
·      Gardens 4.3%
·      Shops and Offices 0.7%
·      Highways (Roads and Paths) 2.3%
·      Railways 0.1%
·      Water (Rivers /Reservoirs) 2.6%
·      Industry, Military and other uses 1.4%

This leaves 88.5% as Open Countryside. If you think about it, we should really add to that the gardens, which are green spaces. The end result is that the country is 92.8% greenspace.

So, THAT'S where we can build new homes!

As a country, we have plenty of space to build more homes for the younger generation and the five million more homes needed in the next 20 years would use only 0.25% of the country’s land. Now I am not advocating building massive housing estates and 20 floo concrete and glass behemoth apartment blocks next to local beauty spots such as Rochester Castle or Upnor Castle. However, with some clever planning and joined up thinking, we really do need to think outside the box when it comes to how we are going to build and house our children and our children’s children in the coming 50 years in Medway. If anyone has their own ideas, I would love to hear from you!

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