Regional Market Report – The Midlands



Our Regional Market Report series examines demographic, housing, and planning data for specific regions across the UK. 

In this report, we’ll be taking a look at the stories these datasets are telling across urban areas in both the East and West Midlands – and how they compare. Alongside how these trends are playing out in more rural areas in the Midlands. 


The People

Analysing population density, migration patterns, median age, and income can help you to make data-driven decisions about the type of properties that people living across different regions need. We’ve drilled into some of the recent data from the Office of National Statistics so that you don’t have to.

Population Change and Population Density

With a population of 5,950,060 people in 2021, the West Midlands had a higher population than the East Midlands, which had 4,879,210 people. However, the East Midlands did see a larger population growth (7.5% vs 6.1%) from 2011 to 2021, and has a greater projected population growth anticipated for 2031 (7% vs 6.8%).

Unsurprisingly, as the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham has the highest population out of both the East and West Midlands at 1,144,810 people, according to the ONS data.

Seven of the top ten most populous LPAs in the Midlands are in the WMCA (Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Shropshire, Dudley, Walsall, and Wolverhampton). And the other LPAs which make up the top 10 are the three urban areas we have chosen to look at for the East Midlands (Derby, Leicester, Nottingham). 

When we look at the LPAs with the lowest population in 2021, there’s a higher percentage of rural areas (7 out of the bottom 10). However, three LPAs from the WMCA (North Warwickshire, Tamworth, and Redditch) were also some of the least populous areas. In 2021, Rutland was the least populated LPA in the Midlands with only 41,210 inhabitants. 

In terms of future population growth, the ONS projections show that it’s mainly the rural areas that are expected to see the biggest increases from 2021 to 2031. With the exception of Coventry, taking the top spot at 22.5% and North Warwickshire at 12.8%. 

Four LPAs are projected to see negative population growth in the 10 years to 2031: 

  • Tamworth: -3.6%
  • Redditch: -2.1%
  • Lincoln: -1.7%
  • Worcester: -0.1%

When we look at population density, we see a similar pattern. The top ten most densely populated cities are mainly the larger cities with the highest population. However, the ranking does shift slightly, with cities in the East Midlands topping the table. 

Leicester is the most densely populated LPA with 4,990 people per sqkm, followed by Nottingham with 4,283 people per sqkm, then Birmingham with 4,266 people per sqkm. 

The reverse trend can be seen when looking at the least densely populated areas, with the bottom 10 all being rural LPAs. Shropshire is the only local authority from the WMCA to land in this list. 

East Lindsey is the least densely populated LPA in the Midlands with only 81 people per sqkm. It is the third largest district in the UK, so it makes sense that its inhabitants are spread more sparsely.

The more populous West Midlands is also more densely populated overall than the East Midlands (458 people per sqkm and 312 people per sqkm respectively). 

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Migration patterns

Migration patterns can show us where people are moving to and from. Internal migration means that people are moving to or from elsewhere in the UK, while external migration means that people are moving from the area to overseas. 


Net migration patterns are quite different in both the East and West Midlands. The former saw negative internal (-443 people) and external migration (-251 people). Whereas, the West Midlands saw a positive population growth as a result of internal (514 people) and external (99 people). 


When we look at the data on an LPA level, we can see that some of the most populated cities saw the biggest negative net population change as a result of internal migration: 


  • Nottingham: -4,294 people
  • Birmingham: -4,110 people
  • Leicester: -2,809 people
  • Coventry: -2,301 people


On the other hand, rural areas saw the highest levels of net internal migration. The top two were in the WMCA – Stratford-upon-Avon and Shropshire (1,217 people and 1,087 people respectively). 


East Lindsey (the least densely populated LPA in the Midlands) also saw significant net internal migration at 824 people.