The Coventry population numbers issue.
The Coventry Local Plan and Warwick District Local Plan were both created based on a set of population figures and projections produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
We have long contended that the figures were questionable - and not supported by key indicators of actual population growth (e.g. utilities usage, hospital admissions etc etc) and there has always been pushback from Coventry City Council that the ONS figures are the ones they have to work with.
The suspicion was that the Coventry population numbers were exaggerated because they assumed that a (much) higher number of students stayed in the city after their studies, rather than going home. The gulf between the projections and the evidence-based actual numbers has grown over the years.
The consequence of these figures is that the Coventry Local Plan assumed a population growth that never happened, and it assumed that the 'ghosts' in these figures needed houses - so the number of houses required for Coventry was over-estimate. In fact, so much so that it created overspill into neighbouring boroughs like Warwick District and Nuneaton and Bedworth - with those councils being put in a position of having to accept the overspill build. This has resulted in huge developments being proposed both within the city boundary and also tacked on to the city boundary but in for example, Warwick District.
This is how the land to the south of Westwood Heath Road came to be taken out of Green Belt and allocated for housing (425 houses) with a further section 'safeguarded' for future development (another 700 houses at the lower end of Westwood Heath Road).
In December 2020, after much political lobbying by CPRE, KOGG and others, the Office for Statistics Regulation (the UK regulator) began an investigation into the creation and use of these statistics.
On May 10th 2021, they issued a report which largely validated that the population numbers used in Coventry did not stand up to rigorous analysis.
The full report can be found here.
There has been national and local press coverage, with a sample in the links below:
The Times - Plans for thousands of green belt homes based on ‘inconsistent’ data (Full article needs subscription)
The original press release from CPRE (The countryside charity) and KOGG (Keep Our Green Belt Green) is located here. WHRA is an active member of KOGG and directly supports their activities.