London exodus will not ‘represent a permanent structural shift’

London’s population looks set to decline for the first time in more than 30 years, driven by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and people reassessing where they live during the crisis, but this trend will prove short-lived, according to a leading housebuilder.

Homebuyer trends have changed during the coronavirus pandemic. The increase in home working is encouraging growing numbers of people to consider moving elsewhere, with many reluctant to return to pre-pandemic work conditions.

The accountancy firm PwC recently said that the number of people living in the capital could drop by more than 300,000 this year, from a record level of about 9 million in 2020, to as low as 8.7 million, which would be the first annual drop since 1988.

However, Berkeley Group does not think the current boom in demand from buyers looking for larger homes outside the capital during the pandemic will last, claiming that it does not “represent a permanent structural shift”.

Rob Perrins

The mainly London-focused housebuilder says that the shift for many to working from home during the Covid-19 lockdowns will not “reverse urbanisation or detract from the attraction of a global city”.

Rob Perrins, chief executive of Berkeley, believes that once the disruption caused by the pandemic dissipates, London will again able to flourish “as a global destination for culture, entertainment, education, recreation and business”.

He commented: “London is one of the world’s greatest open and welcoming cities and it has been wonderful to witness its vibrancy returning over recent weeks, with the gradual lifting of restrictions. People thrive on its energy, opportunity and unparalleled attributes.”


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One Comment

  1. KByfield04

    Interesting- I’ve seen several reports estimating this figures close to 700k- with some advising that (over the last 5 years) could be as much as 10% or closing in on 1m. Three key influences will determine the short to mid-term impact- the reopening of arts & hospitality (and ongoing support around this), the return of UK tourism and the return to City offices. Personally I feel London has a tough 3-5 years a head as it is forced (as it often is) to slightly reinvent itself however I think we will arrive in a more residentially orientated capital with the drawing appeal being the quality of outdoor spaces such as large parts pedestrianised, outdoor dining & events becoming the norm (weather willing)…..akin to so many appealing European cities. Ultimately challenging but exciting times.


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