Our Regional Market Report series examines the trends of each local planning authority (LPA) in the South West.
In this report, we look at the demographic changes of each LPA, and the forecast ahead.
South West Region Population Change & Population Density
Over a decade (2011 to 2021), the South West by 7.6% from a population of 5,300,831 to 5,703,070. This outpaces England's population growth in the same time period – 6.37% (from 53,107,169 to 56,490,645).
Over the next decade (2021 to 2031), the ONS forecasts the South West's growth to slow down to 6.5%, rising from 5,703,070 to 6,075,499. England is forecasted to grow by 5.13%, rising from 56,490,645 to 59,389,102.
The South West has a population density of 239.67 people per sq km, which is sparser than England's overall 433.86 people per sq km.
Below you can view the data for each LPA in both column chart format and in choropleth maps (heatmaps). If you're viewing this on the web, you can hover each bar in the chart to get more data for the LPA, and filter by county.
In Devon, East Devon leads with a 10-year growth of 13.4%, while Plymouth trails at 3.3%. Future-wise, Teignbridge is set to grow by 11.5%, and Plymouth will only grow by 1.7%.
Gloucestershire sees Tewkesbury at the top with a 15.4% population growth and Cheltenham at the bottom with 2.8%. Tewkesbury is projected to lead the county table with a forecasted decade growth of 16.9%, while Cheltenham is similarly at the bottom with a forecast growth of 1.1%.
In Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset leads with a 10-year growth of 10.1%, while Mendip lags at the bottom of the county with growth of 6.1%. Bath and North East Somerset is also forecasted to grow the most over the next decade by 9.8%. South Somerset, on the other hand, will grow the least by 1.5%.
In Cornwall, the LPA of the same name, Cornwall, saw population growth of 6.9% in the past decade. There is also population data available for the Isles of Scilly – which saw a population decline of -7.4% (2011 population: 2,224. 2021 population: 2,060). Cornwall is projected to grow further by 10.7% over the next decade, while the Isles of Scilly are projected to decline further by -19.8% (from 2,060 people to 1,652 people).
The City of Bristol, the sole LPA in Bristol county, grew by 10.4%, outpacing the South West's overall growth rate of 7.6%. It's forecasted to grow by 6.3% over the next decade, in line with the South West's overall projected population growth of 6.5%.
In Wiltshire, there is only data available for the LPA of the same name, Wiltshire, which saw growth in the past decade of 7.8%, in line with the South West's 7.6%. It is projected to grow less, by 4.2% over the next decade, below the South West's overall 6.5%.
Dorset county's data is unavailable at the moment.
In Devon, Plymouth holds the highest population density at 3,315.32 people per sq km. In contrast, West Devon has a much lower density of 49.57 people per sq km.
In Gloucestershire, Gloucester has the highest population density of 3,268.27 people per sq km, more than Cheltenham's 2,550.99 people per sq km. The LPA of Cotswold, has the lowest density of 78.25 people per sq km.
In Somerset, North Somerset has the highest density at 581.67 people per sq km. On the other hand, Somerset West and Taunton is the least dense at 132.97 people per sq km.
Moving to the county of Cornwall, the LPA of the same name has a population density of 161.34 people per sq km. There is data for the Isles of Scilly, which has a similar density of 139.17 people per sq km.
In the county of Bristol, the City of Bristol is the sole LPA, with a population density of 4,295.91 people per sq km, the highest in the South West region.
In Wiltshire, there is only data available for the LPA of Wiltshire, which has a population density of 157.71 people per sq km.
Dorset county's data is unavailable at the moment.
South West Migration Patterns & Population Change Components
Please note: The Census took place on 21st March 2021, and the latest data for population change estimates from the ONS is 30th June 2021. In the Census year, the ONS estimate population change not on a year on year basis, but between the mid-year estimate of that year and the Census date. This means that the following figures are for the roughly three-month span between 21st March 2021 and 30th June 2021. More on this from the ONS here.
England saw a net population increase of 45,774 people in that time span. If we were to extrapolate this to a 12 month period – we would get a 165,421 increase. However, this is a crude extrapolation and doesn't take into account variables such as seasonality.
The South West saw a net population increase of 9,770 people in that time span. If we were to extrapolate this to a 12-month period, we would get an increase of 35,307 people. This would make up 21.3% of England’s net population change.
Most of this change was driven by domestic migration, contributing a net 9,952 of the increase. International migration added net 4 people, and there was a net negative of -186 people from births minus deaths.
Overall, the net increase made up 0.62% percentage of the South West's population (this is with the extrapolated figure).
Net population change takes into account net internal migration, net international migration, and births minus deaths. The next chart shows the overall net change, and the chart after that shows the components of this change.
Devon contributed 1,893 people (yearly extrapolation of 6,841) to the South West's growth. This was driven by domestic migration (net internal migration of 2,365 people, offset by a net of -470 of births minus deaths).
Gloucestershire also played the largest contributor – net increase of 2,161 people (yearly extrapolation of 7,810). Internal migration and births minus deaths both played a big role – 1,684, and 491 people, respectively.
Somerset saw a net increase of 1,216 people (yearly extrapolation of 4,394). Internal, or domestic, migration contributed 1,362 people. This was offset by a births minus deaths value of -149 people.
The City of Bristol contributed a net decrease of -1,298 people (yearly extrapolation of -4,691) to the South West's growth. While it has a growing population with births minus deaths of 648 people, it faces a negative domestic migration of -1,952 people.
The county of Cornwall (including data for the Isles of Scilly) contributed a net increase of 1,861 people to the South West (extrapolated to 6,725 people for the year). Driven mostly by domestic migration with 2,242 people (and offset with births minus deaths of -385 people).
Wiltshire county which only has data for the LPA of Wiltshire, contributed a net increase of 1,926 people to the South West (extrapolated to 6,960 people for the year). Mostly driven by internal or domestic migration of 1,850 people and a modest births minus deaths of 72 people.
East of England Age Demographics
The South West's median age of 44.05 years is older than England's overall median age of 40.49 years.
The South West's median age has gone up by 1.39 years between 2011 and 2021. To compare, England's overall median age has gone up by 1.1 years.
West Devon has the oldest population with a median age of 51.83 years, while Exeter is the youngest at 36.14 years.
West Devon has seen the most significant age change, with its median age increasing by 4.2 years. In contrast, Exeter has stayed relatively the same, with an increase of just 0.4 years.
The LPA of Cotswold holds the title for the oldest area with a median age of 49.34 years. Gloucester is the youngest, with a median age of 39.16 years.
The Forest of Dean has experienced the biggest change in age, increasing by 3.01 years, while South Gloucestershire has actually seen a decrease in its median age by -0.38 years.
Somerset West and Taunton has the oldest population with a median age of 47.57 years. Bath and North East Somerset is the youngest LPA, with a median age of 40.16 years.
Mendip has also seen the most significant increase in age, going up by 3.27 years, whereas Bath and North East Somerset's median age got slightly younger, decreasing by -0.4 years.
The City of Bristol is younger with its median age of 34.27, than the South West's overall 44.05.
It has barely seen a change in its median age between 2011 and 2021, with an increase of 0.50 years.
The LPA of Cornwall has a median age of 47.84, slightly older than the Isles of Scilly's 45.46.
Cornwall saw its median age increase by 2.47 years, while the Isles of Scilly got a bit younger, with a median age decrease of -0.68.
The LPA of Wiltshire is the only area there is data for in Wiltshire county. It has a median age of 44.63, in line with the South West's overall median age of 44.05.
It saw its median age rise by 2.46 years between 2011 and 2021, more than the South West's overall 1.39 years.
East of England Income Profile
The overall median income for the South West in 2022 is £31,726. This is a little bit less than England’s overall median income of £33,208.
Compared to 2012, the South West’s income has risen by 26.7% from £25,036, which is a little bit more than England’s income rise of 23.8% from £26,826.
Exeter, in Devon, has the strongest median income of £31,705. Teignbridge, on the other hand, has the lowest in the county at £27,108. Yet this still compares well with both the regional and national average. Looking at income growth – Exeter is the winner again, with a 43.5% increase. Teignbridge on the other hand, saw a 12.7% rise.
In Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean has the highest median income in the county at £39,132, while Gloucester has the lowest in the county at £30,273 (still compares well to the national average). Looking at how things have changed over the last decade – Forest of Dean saw the most income growth with a 43.4% increase. Tewkesbury, however, saw growth below the national average, at 15.8%.
Looking at Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset has the strongest income at £36,389, while Sedgemoor reports the lowest median income at £27,297. Bath and North East Somerset's wages grew by 35.5% – the strongest in the county, while Sedgemoor's grew less than the regional and national average at 13.6%.
The City of Bristol, has a median income of £34,215, the fourth strongest median income in the region. It grew by 34.2% since 2012, also the fourth strongest wage growth in the region.
In Cornwall, the LPA of Cornwall has a median wage of £29,177, just shy of the regional average. It saw growth of 32.1%, beating the regional average. There is no income data for the Isles of Scilly.
In Wiltshire, the LPA of Wiltshire has a median wage of £33,294, in line with the regional average. It grew by 31.6%, beating the regional average.
In Hertfordshire, St Albans, stands out with its high median income of £46,551, the highest in Hertfordshire. Stevenage has the lowest at £32,999, which is almost the same as the national average. East Hertfordshire saw significant income growth over the past ten years at 38.26%, but Watford saw a minor decrease of 0.83%.
There is no income data for Dorset at the moment.
If you've enjoyed the data insights about demographics in the South West, check out our other report for the region below: