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London exodus will not represent a permanent structural shift

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Fri 02 Jul 2021

London exodus will not represent a permanent structural shift

London’s population looks set to decline for the first time in more than 30 years, driven by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and people reassessing where they live during the crisis, but this trend will prove short-lived, according to a leading housebuilder.

Homebuyer trends have changed during the coronavirus pandemic. The increase in home working is encouraging growing numbers of people to consider moving elsewhere, with many reluctant to return to pre-pandemic work conditions.

The accountancy firm PwC recently said that the number of people living in the capital could drop by more than 300,000 this year, from a record level of about 9 million in 2020, to as low as 8.7 million, which would be the first annual drop since 1988.

However, Berkeley Group does not think the current boom in demand from buyers looking for larger homes outside the capital during the pandemic will last, claiming that it does not “represent a permanent structural shift”.

The mainly London-focused housebuilder says that the shift for many to working from home during the Covid-19 lockdowns will not “reverse urbanisation or detract from the attraction of a global city”.

Rob Perrins, chief executive of Berkeley, believes that once the disruption caused by the pandemic dissipates, London will again able to flourish “as a global destination for culture, entertainment, education, recreation and business”.

He commented: “London is one of the world’s greatest open and welcoming cities and it has been wonderful to witness its vibrancy returning over recent weeks, with the gradual lifting of restrictions. People thrive on its energy, opportunity and unparalleled attributes.”