PORTSMOUTH is the most crowded city in the UK, newly-released statistics have revealed.
The city has 5,100 people living in every square kilometre – a staggering 20 times higher than the UK average of 255 people per square kilometre, according to the Portrait of the South East, just published by the Office for National Statistics.
It narrowly beats London, which has an average of 4,900 people per sq km. Southampton is not far behind with 4,800 per sq km.
And Portsmouth’s total is 11 times more than the regional average of 440 people per sq km.
The figures also reveal that the city has had the region’s joint-fastest population growth, alongside Slough – rising by 2.1 per cent in 2008/9 alone.
Latest figures put the city’s population at 203,500.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the city council, said: ‘There are inevitably pressures by there being more people in the city, but it does mean that schools which would have closed because of a lack of children will now be able to remain open.
‘One of the bad signs for any city is where your population declines. Liverpool and Hull have been going downhill and it’s a big indicator that people don’t want to be there.
‘We are part of the economic powerhouse of the country and this is where the wealth that drives Britain is created so you can’t be surprised that people want to move here.
‘It’s not surprising to hear about the density and that’s unlikely to change much because of the Victorian design of our streets with the small back gardens.
‘But we aren’t back to our peak in the 1951 census when I understand we had about 250,000 people in the city – and that was before Paulsgrove was built.’
At the other end of the scale, Chichester has a population density of only 143 per sq km.
Although house prices in the south east are the highest in the country at an average of £203,000, 19 per cent more than the national average, Portsmouth and Gosport were among the lowest at £145,000 and £139,000 respectively.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘We have to be realistic, house prices in Gosport and Portsmouth are cheaper than in some other parts of the region, but we have people living in Portsmouth who commute to London because the house prices there are too steep.’
The population of the south east is expected to hit 10m by 2033, an increase of 20 per cent on 2008.
The current population for the region, which includes Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and West Sussex, stands at 8.4m – more than any other UK region.
To see the full report go to statistics.gov.uk