The Reporter
Issue 493, 27 October 2003
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The ups and downs of city living

City apartmentThe Leeds city centre housing boom has only just begun, with enough flats already to house 2,700 people and developments in the pipeline to house a further 12,000. In a new report published by the University and property developers K W Linfoot, Rachael Unsworth from geography asked over 150 city centre apartment dwellers to understand what attracted them to live there, what problems they faced, and what might induce them to leave.

The survey found, unsurprisingly, that those drawn to city centre living are mostly young, well-paid professionals, who made the choice to be close to work and to the city’s nightlife. Over 60% are owner-occupiers, most are middle or senior managers or own their own business. Dr Unsworth estimates a salary of at least £22,000 is needed to afford the high purchase or rental costs of the city centre.

Residents identified the poor choice of food shopping as the main problem with city centre living, though nearly half also pointed to the lack of basic healthcare facilities: there are currently no GP surgeries in the city centre.

Rachael UnsworthCity centre living does encourage positive lifestyle changes, as the survey found. Over half the respondents walk to work, more than five times the national average. The rest use bikes or public transport, with just over a quarter using a car, mostly as they worked outside Leeds. Car ownership amongst city centre residents is considerably lower than it is in Leeds as a whole.

None of the households which responded to the survey included children, and most respondents cited marriage and children as the main reason for a possible move out of the city centre. Over half of the respondents plan to stay in their property for over a year, with owner-occupiers five times more likely than tenants to say they planned to stay over two years.

“If city centre living is to be made attractive to families, then facilities – which could also benefit the young single professional – need to be improved,” said Dr Unsworth. “Lack of childcare provision and schools, as well as the poor food shopping and healthcare services identified by our survey, are a major disincentive for families. In addition, family-friendly developments would be needed, with outdoor play areas. This is essential if Leeds wants to attract a wider range of people to city centre living.”

For further information, see the press release


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