When pandemic hit 2020 it was a painful time for many urban developers. With gardens – or the land – becoming increasingly important to caged house seekers, some people wondered if residents would ever get their half-finished townhouses.

But almost two years into the pandemic, speculations about the “death of the city” were false. Exclusive data collected by the Guardian suggests that since the Covid pandemic first appeared in the UK, thousands of other people have lived in Britain’s largest cities, mostly in apartments, often with no balconies or outside areas.

Liverpool’s city center population rose almost 6% in 2020 to 48,594, 2,754 more than in 2019.

Leeds City Council estimates that the center of Leeds is 5,000 more people than in 2019, including employees of Channel 4, which opened its “national headquarters” in the city earlier this year. “We estimate the total population is now around 38,000,” said a spokesman.

According to the Greater London Authority’s December 2021, Housing Report by the Greater London Authority, demand in central London is increasing as tenants return to the city center. Rightmove data shows rental rates have increased 11.1% since November 2019 and house prices have increased 2.7% annually.

Manchester’s city center population is now 69,835, up 4.9% from 2021 according to council estimates.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Manchester remains the fastest growing city in England, and the city center population is estimated to be close to 100,000 by 2025,” said Gavin White, executive member of the Housing and Employment Council.

“The pandemic hasn’t stopped people from living in the city and this is due to a combination of factors. the number of jobs created (including specialized sectors such as advanced manufacturing, digital, and technology), culture, sports – not just football – and an unprecedented graduate retention rate; All of these are reasons Manchester continues to enjoy the city’s enviable growth. “

Others believe the evacuation from the city center may not have happened as some homeowners are stuck and unable to sell due to coverage and fire safety issues.

Only 870 properties were sold in central Manchester in 2020-21, a 75% decrease from 2019-2020. In its annual report, the city council blames the cut to “significant restrictions on the provision of adequate housing for sale (mainly concerning coverage and fire safety issues)”.

The government on Monday unveiled a £ 4 billion package designed to allow more renters to evade the cost of replacing fuel liners and promised new laws during the pandemic to protect them from other costs related to security breaches.

Many of the city center’s new residents are more likely to rent than buyers, often living in luxury apartment buildings with gyms, and paying £ 2,000 a month for a two-bed apartment. Many of these apartments are being bought “out of plan” by investors.

Unscheduled (pre-built) purchases outside of London are particularly booming. Data from Hamptons real estate agents showed that in 2021 40% of new homes in the capital were sold off-plan, compared with 61% in Birmingham, 58% in Manchester, 60% in Liverpool, and 45% in Leeds.

The rapid development in the center of Manchester raised fears that the “zombie blocks” would not be occupied. But according to a city-state report, only 1% of vacancies were longer than six months.

More and more single-family homes were being built in Manchester too, prompting the city council to build its first city center elementary school in generations. The 210-seat school and 26-seat crèche are located on Crown Street, a new building in Dean’s Gate Station, and are scheduled to open in September 2023.

Leeds is planning a major expansion of the city center over the next ten years. A city council spokesman said, “As of 2033, the local plan provides capacity for an additional 18,000 new homes in and around the city center in 110 locations, in line with the city council’s strategy to maximize potential. – Use of fallow land for residential purposes.

“More than half of these houses already have a detailed building permit or are under construction. Based on current employment assumptions, the number of residents in the city center would increase by 27,000.

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