Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Saying Britain Is Overcrowded Doesn't Make It True!


To those who assert that Britain has reached its capacity on how many more people it can fit in - it's just not true! Last I heard the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) worked out that the proportion of England's landscape that is built on is a mere 6% (in fact, once you include parks, allotments, and domestic gardens into that equation, the actual figure is more like 2.27%).

Or to put it in an even more compelling way, excluding parks and gardens, if we were to quadruple the size of every city, town and village in the UK, it would still be the case that just over 90% of UK land is not urbanised.

Now obviously I'm not saying that every bit of non-urban land can be built on - there are important areas of natural beauty, there are mountains, rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs; and there is important land for farming, horticulture and silage, but the mere suggestion that the UK is overcrowded, and that we are full, is frankly ludicrous, and ought to be put to bed right away!

As I explained in a past Blog post:

"Regarding overcrowdedness, the upshot is, rural areas are quieter because fewer people like to live in them - and house prices are very expensive in Central London and Manhattan because more people want to live there.  Its simple logic - the reason London has 8.6 million people and rural towns have only a few thousand is because more people prefer to live in London than they do rural towns. The reason being, not only is there is a greater abundance of the aforementioned benefits in more populous areas, there are also better career prospects, higher salaries, better nightlife, greater choices of restaurants, a richer choice of entertainment, more tourist attractions, better public transport, greater diversity of people – the list goes on. 

In terms of probability, the highest number of complainers of over-crowdedness will most likely come from a highly populated area, which probably explains why to them the UK feels overcrowded. Most people who pontificate on overcrowding are likely to be pontificating from a vantage point of high population density. The people with the highest probability of feeling an intense population density are those who live in the densely populated areas. For example, if city x has 7 million people and a village y has 1000 people, and only x and y exist, there is only a 1 in 7000 probability that you don't live in city x.

Let's get one thing straight, though - the UK is not overcrowded. The mistake people are making is that they are trying to average population density of people instead of averaging over square miles. You can't get a proper picture of the UK's people to area ratio by counting how densely populated a populated area is - the only way is to assess how densely populated the average square mile would be when considering each square mile as a weighted average of total population and total area. A tube station in the rush hour can be overcrowded; so can a concert venue without proper door control - but take a trip around the UK by plane and look down, and for the most part you won't see crowds of people, you'll see fields and woodlands.

The rate of urban areas in relation to square miles is vanishingly small - there is potential for literally millions more people living in the UK. Of course, just like all sensible immigration policies, a nation must ensure it has the schools, hospitals, roads, etc to support more people, but given the myriad qualities and benefits one distils from living in places like London, that ought to be something that's greatly encouraged.

It certainly is the case that in some areas of the UK the infrastructure hasn't quite kept up with population demand, but once you accept the general maxim that more people means more cultural and social benefits, it's easy to see that inadequate facilities does not mean the nation is overcrowded, it simply means that the UK infrastructure has not progressed conterminously to facilitate the social and cultural benefits that come with an increased diversity of people."

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