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Young professionals leading UK's dramatic urban renaissance

The UK’s cities and towns are enjoying a “dramatic urban renaissance” as more people return to live there after generations of drift away from city-centre living. A report commissioned by the BBC has revealed that the population of many towns and cities have doubled since the start of the 21st century.

The change is particularly acute in the north of England and the Midlands. Like much of the urban UK, these areas saw millions of people move out of often-poor housing in densely populated areas of towns and cities in the post-war years, with new towns and suburbs springing up to house families.

Drawn in by promise of work

However, the BBC report – compiled by the Centre for Cities – has revealed it is the young who are flocking back to urban centres, drawn in by the promise of high-skilled, high-paying work, of new housing (often high-rise apartments in gentrified parts of town) and of the growing facilities that are springing up to service the new residents, such as restaurants and bars, gyms and shops.

The Centre for Cities looked at towns of a population of more than 135,000 and cities from 550,000 to map their growth and used data from the 2001 census to calculate city-centre population growth.

Since 2001, Liverpool’s city centre has the UK’s fastest-growing population, rising by 181 percent or from 9,100 people to 25,600.

Birmingham city centre has grown by 163 percent (9,800 to 25,800 people), followed by Leeds at 150 percent (12,900 to 32,300), Manchester at 149 percent (14,300 to 35,600) and Bradford at 146 percent (1,300 to 3,200).

In Cardiff, there are now 12,600 people living in the city centre, compared to 6,700 in 2001, an increase of 88 percent. Glasgow’s urban population is up from 19,700 to 28,300 (44 percent), Edinburgh’s from 10,100 to 12,600 (25 percent) and Belfast’s from 3,500 to 4,600 (31 percent).

Professionals putting down roots

Many of the new urban dwellers are students, but it is mainly young, single professionals who are putting down roots in the city.

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