Wednesday, 7pm: A new report has acclaimed Peterborough as the fastest growing city in the country but it warns that residents’ satisfaction with life here is not keeping pace and it has sparked demands for a new look at Government funding for education and health services,
Peterborough has been named as the fastest growing city in the country - but the accolade has triggered concerns that it might be at the cost of quality of life.
Statistics from the independent research group Centre for Cities published on Monday (27 January) titled, ’Cities Outlook 2014’ show that over the 10 years from 2002, the city’s population soared by 27,600 people to 186,400.
The annual rate of increase is 1.62 per cent and is the fastest in the UK.
While the number of migrants arriving in the city has helped population growth, the city also enjoys one of the highest birth rates and one of the lowest death rates.
However, there are signs the city’s growth may come at a price. For the same report shows the city has fallen in the rankings for the sense of satisfaction residents have with life in the city.
According to the survey, during 2011/12, life satisfaction of city people was measured at 7.28 - putting the city in 41st position out of 64 cities and towns.
A year later, while the percentage of people satisfied with city life had risen to 7.33 per cent, Peterborough had been overtaken by other locations and its placing fell to 46.
Peterborough City Council leader Cllr Marco Cereste said: “I don’t know why some people might not be satisfied with life in the city. I would love every person to be satisfied and happy because they are living in our city.
“However, it’s clear a huge percentage of the people here do think the city really is a great place to live.
“Peterborough is a city on the go. While Peterborough is not top in every category in the report it is still a fantastic performance given that we are measured alongside places such as Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.”
The city measured well in the rate of growth of its housing stock - up by 0.91 per cent in 2011/12 (5th in the table).
In 2011, the housing stock stood at 76,800 homes and had risen to 77,500 a year later. House prices also rose - up from an average of £152,400 (35th) to £157,900 - taking the city to 31st position.
The average house price growth rate during 2012/13 is 3.61 per cent (8th). The average house price in 2012 was £152,400 and was £157,900 by the following year.
Cllr Cereste said: “This is a city that has planned for growth in people, jobs and houses and that is what we are doing.”
But Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “I welcome growth if there is sufficient infrastructure to support it - not just population increase alone.
“We also need to concentrate on raising the quality of life of existing residents and that means better quality homes and improving schools amongst other things.
He added: “Our civic leaders need to focus on quality of life issues, which are paramount not just increased numbers of new residents.
“Uncontrolled immigration was a huge mistake and has imposed a massive burden on infrastructure and public services in the city. We should be attracting skilled self sufficient people who speak English and make a long term contribution to Peterborough.”
John Bridge, chief executive of Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is not a surprise we are the fastest growing city. But it is important that funding for the local authority should keep pace with the growth in population, for instance for health and education.”
Jobs creation is booming in city
The employment rate in Peterborough put the city in the top half of a league of 64 towns and cites.
From July 2011 to June 2012, the employment rate was 69.12 per cent of the working age population putting the city in 28th place.
A year later, the employment rate was 70.81 per cent (26th).
Private sector employment rose in 2011 from 73,200 (40th) to 77,200 (38th) a year later.
But for the year 2012 the growth in real weekly earnings was nil (28th).
Migrants help to fuel city’s population growth
The Centre for Cities survey shows Peterborough has the fastest rate of population growth in the UK.
And figures from the national Census show the city has been the focus for many migrants moving into the UK from all over the world.
According to the Census 2011, a total of 37,892 people have moved into the city from overseas between 1941 and 2011.
The largest numbers have arrived since 2004 to 2006 when 8,940 immigrants arrived followed by a further 8,008 over the following two years.
Some 3,366 migrants arrived during 2010 and 2011. Most of the new arrivals are aged 20 to 24.
The Census shows that in 2001, 14,134 Peterborough residents gave their country of birth as one of the new European Union accession states - Poland and Lithuania.