Focus on the five boroughs
by Ben Rogers
London likes to think of itself as the most dynamic part of the UK, so it was perhaps a bit disappointing to see city rankings based on yesterday's census that showed population growth was greater in some of the smaller towns and cities around London, like Milton Keynes (17 per cent) and Peterborough (16.5 per cent) than London itself (12 per cent).
The figures look very different however, when we look at East London. Taken together, the 5 Olympic boroughs - Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest - have a population of more than 1.3 million, much bigger than any city outside London apart from Birmingham and Manchester. And the five Olympic boroughs have grown on average 20 per cent since the last Census - faster than anywhere else.
These boroughs, moreover, are some of the poorest areas of the UK - and areas where new development has minimal environmental disadvantages. Development in these areas will eat up 'brownfield' rather than 'greenfield' land. The results of yesterday's Census come as a timely reminder as to why the decision was made to locate the Olympics, with all its attendant infrastructural investment, in East London.
But they also remind us that it's vital that Government, the Mayor and others don't take their eye off East London after the games caravan has moved on. London is simply too big, and its constituent parts too varied, to be usefully compared with other UK cities. East London is in some ways a city in its own right, and one of the poorest and certainly the fastest growing in the UK.