Population Projections 2016 to 2036


On 25th May, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), published the 2014-based Subnational Population Projections for England. They are the first local breakdown of population projections since 2014 and also provide age range breakdown at the local level and replace the 2012-based projections published by the ONS in November 2013. National population projections provide an indication of the future size and age structure of the UK and its constituent countries based on a set of assumptions of future fertility, mortality and migration, including a number of variant projections based on alternative scenarios.

These latest figures, and the household projections that will be based on them, will inform where there is demand for housing development and will prove important to planners in drawing up local plans. Although there is inevitable uncertainty in the assumptions reflecting the inherent unpredictability of demographic behaviour, meaning that projections become increasingly uncertain the further they are carried forward into the future, this briefing is designed to illustrate how the population of the north will change over the twenty year period from 2016 to 2036.

The population of England is projected to increase by 7.2 million over the next two decades, a 13% increase on 2016 to stand at 62.4 million in 2036.

Regional Change

“All regions of England are projected to see an increase in their population size over the next decade, with London, the East of England and South East projected to grow faster than the country as a whole. The population is also ageing with all regions seeing a faster growth in those aged 65 and over than in younger age groups.” Suzie Dunsmith, ONS.

Indeed, London’s population is projected to increase by 21.6% by 2036 compared to 13% for the whole of England. Meanwhile, the three northern regions are projected to see the slowest population growth in the country. The total northern population is projected to grow by just over 1 million to 16.3 million. This equates to an increase of 7%.

Table 1: Regional Population change (000s)

2016 2036 % change
England 55,218.7 62,403.9 13.0%
North East 2,636.1 2,780.9 5.5%
North West 7,190.5 7,666.7 6.6%
Yorkshire And The Humber 5,414.9 5,855.9 8.1%

As Table 1 above shows, Yorkshire and the Humber will see the greatest proportionate increase in population (8.1%) followed by the North West (6.6%) and the North East (5.5%). However, in numerical terms, the North West is set to see the greatest increase, with a 476,200 increase taking the population to 7.7 million in 2036. Yorkshire and the Humber will see a 441,000 increase in population and the North East, 145,000, taking these populations rise to 5.9 million and 2.8 million respectively.

Sub-regional Change

The most noticeable sub-regional statistic is that while most sub-regions are projected to see an increase in population, Cumbria is the only sub-region projected to see a decrease over the next twenty years. Between 2016 and 2036, the Cumbrian population is projected to fall by 6,700 (-1.3%). Elsewhere in the North West, Greater Manchester is to see the greatest increase in population in the north. A 10.2% increase in population up to 2036 will see the population to grow by 284,000 to 3.1 million.

As Table 2 below shows, West Yorkshire is also likely to see a significant growth in population up to 2036. A 226,000 increase here will result in the population increasing to 2.5 million; an increase of 9.9%.

Table 2: Sub-regional population change (000s)

2016 2036 % change
Northumberland 316.3 321.9 1.8%
Tyne and Wear 1,128.1 1,197.2 6.1%
County Durham 522.2 561.6 7.5%
Tees Valley 669.6 700.2 4.6%
Cumbria 496.5 489.8 -1.3%
Lancashire 1,478.3 1,533.1 3.7%
Greater Manchester 2,770.3 3,054.1 10.2%
Merseyside 1,398.6 1,474.8 5.4%
Cheshire 1,046.5 1,114.9 6.5%
North Yorkshire 811.8 863.9 6.4%
West Yorkshire 2,293.7 2,520.1 9.9%
Humberside 928.5 970.3 4.5%
South Yorkshire 1,380.8 1,501.7 8.8%
All North 15,241.2 16,303.6 7.0%

Similarly, South Yorkshire is likely to see a noticeable increase in its population (8.8%). An extra 120,000 people over twenty years will take the population to 1.5 million.

All sub-regions across the North East will see an increase in population – the greatest proportionate increase will be in County Durham (7.5%). In terms of the number of people, the extra 69,000 people likely to live in Tyne & Wear, taking the population to 1.2 million, means it will continue as the most populous conurbation in the region.

District Level Change

The fall in the Cumbrian population is focused in three local authority areas. Barrow-in-Furness (-7.8%) and Copeland (-4.8%) are the local authorities with the largest decrease in population in the whole of the north to 2036. In addition, Allerdale is projected to see a fall of 0.9% in population. Elsewhere, the Lancastrian districts of Hyndburn (-1.9%), Blackburn with Darwen (-1.5%) and Blackpool (-0.2%) are also set to see a falling population. Richmondshire in North Yorkshire is also projected to see a 1.9% population reduction.

Map 1: Population change by local authority

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011

As the red areas on Map 1 above show, the Greater Manchester local authorities of Salford (17.3%), Manchester (14.8%) and Trafford (14.4%) as well as Chorley (14.6%) in Lancashire are projected to see the greatest increase in population. Other areas of significant increases in population can be seen in West, South and North Yorkshire. Areas such as York, Selby, Leeds, Kirklees, Sheffield and Barnsley all of projected population increases of over 10% over the next twenty years as does Warrington in Cheshire.

Age construction
As well as the continuing trend of increases in the old and in particular very old populations, there is a theme both nationally and locally, of certain age groups seeing a fall in population. In almost every local authority in the north, we are likely to see a decrease in the number of people aged in their mid-40s to their early 50s.

Furthermore, in many areas there is projected to be a fall in the number very young people aged from 0 to 10 years old. This is not a phenomenon witnessed at the national level.


The 2014-based national population projections are based on the estimated population at the middle of 2014 and a set of demographic assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration based on analysis of trends and expert advice.

The data shows the north will see continued growth in its population, albeit at a slower rate than in other areas of the country. Indeed, whereas all other English regions will see population growth of over 10% (and over 20% in London) none of the three northern regions’ growth will region that figure.

For more information on this and NHC’s data analysis service contact:

Barry Turnbull

(0191) 5661030