Since the 1980s, house prices in the United Kingdom have been skyrocketing (minus the blip of the global market crash in the late noughties), and as a consequence, there has been a declining number of first-time buyers in the same period.
Moreover, fewer and fewer new houses are being built each year over the same period, and in 2013 the fewest new homes were built in the country since the 1920s. However, thousands of housing transactions are taking place every year across the UK as people look to find their dream home.
But which areas are the most popular for housing development and sales, and which areas have become increasingly popular in recent times? By using Land Registry data we have been able to determine which areas of the country have grown and declined over the past five years in terms of the number of housing transactions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the majority of areas where there were the most transactions in the past year are in the bigger cities of the country, in fact, eight out of the top ten local authority regions are cities.
There are three local authority areas which had over 200,000 transactions in the last year, with Birmingham ranking the highest, with Westminster being second, and Leeds third. The Yorkshire city had just over 210,000 which is over 50,000 less than Birmingham which topped the list with 264,130.
These figures are pretty predictable as the biggest cities have the biggest number of transactions, what is more interesting are the areas that have seen the biggest growth in transactions…
1 – West Oxfordshire
2015/16 transactions: 34,789
2020/21 transactions: 44,946
The local authority with the biggest increase in transactions during the past five years is West Oxfordshire with 29.2%. The region includes towns such as Chipping Norton and borders the Cotswolds which makes it a very desirable part of the country to live in and many celebrities have made a home in the area including Jeremy Clarkson and former Prime Minister David Cameron who formed part of the ‘Chipping Norton Set’.
2 – Ribble Valley
2015/16 transactions: 17,456
2020/21 transactions: 21,668
With just under a 5% lower increase than West Oxfordshire is the Ribble Valley in Lancashire with a 24.13% increase since 2015/16. Situated amongst the picturesque landscape of the Forest of Bowland and the River Ribble as it flows towards Preston are towns such as Clitheroe, Whalley and Mellor. Preston itself ranks quite highly on the list in 16th showing that this area of Lancashire as a whole is growing.
3 – East Cambridgeshire
2015/16 transactions: 23,848
2020/21 transactions: 29,369
According to a report by Halifax Bank in 2004, East Cambridgeshire had the fastest-growing population rate outside of the City of London, and that growth has carried on over a decade later judging by the housing transactions which have risen by 23.15% in the past half-decade. East Cambridgeshire encompasses settlements such as the cathedral city of Ely which has good rail links to the capital, meaning that like many parts of Cambridgeshire it has seen growth from workers leaving the capital to commute in instead.
Where some areas increase others must decrease as people up sticks and decide to settle in new places, therefore there are areas of the country that have experienced a large dip in housing transactions.
Just like the rankings for the authorities with the most transactions, the opposite end of the spectrum yields similarly obvious results with smaller local authority areas having a small number of transactions. The Scilly Isles had the lowest amount in 2020/21 with only 512 transactions, followed by Oadby and Wigston and the Welsh mining district of Merthyr Tydfil.
2015/16 transactions: 22,372
2020/21 transactions: 19,190
The West Cumbrian local authority district of Copeland comes in at number one with a 14.22% decrease in transactions in the past five years. The area that contains the towns of Whitehaven and Millom is most well known for the nuclear power plant at Sellafield, and it would appear that only a meltdown would create a bigger exodus from the region than the current rate.
2015/16 transactions: 64,584
2020/21 transactions: 55,796
The home of British motor racing Silverstone is located within Aylesbury Vale, but it would appear that people have been racing away in recent years causing the lack of demand which has seen housing transactions drop by 13.61%. Between 1991 and 2001 the region had a big increase in population of around 18,000 and it would appear that the boom has well and truly ended.
2015/16 transactions: 33,040
2020/21 transactions: 28,767
Another southern district close to the capital is that of Crawley which has seen a 12.93% decrease since 2015/16 resulting in 28,767 transactions in 2020/21. The town that now has a population of over 100,000 has experienced growth due to its proximity to Gatwick airport, but prospective homes are not flying in.
1 – Renfrewshire
2013 Transactions: 2,092
2018 Transactions: 3,748
2 – South Lanarkshire
2013 Transactions: 3,869
2018 Transactions: 6,554
3 – North Lanarkshire
2013 Transactions: 3,361
2018 Transactions: 5,392
North of the border we find that the council area with the biggest increase in housing transactions is Renfrewshire. Despite having the tenth smallest area of any Scottish council area it has increased the number of housing transactions by a huge amount of almost 80%.
The two halves of Lanarkshire claim second and third places respectively with South Lanarkshire coming up on top by around 9%. Lanarkshire borders the nation’s largest city Glasgow, but the biggest towns in the two council areas are East Kilbride in the South and Cumbernauld in the North.
1 – Aberdeen City
2013 Transactions: 4,706
2018 Transactions: 3,653
2 – Aberdeenshire
2013 Transactions: 4,486
2018 Transactions: 3,779
The only two Scottish district areas that have seen a decrease in the number of housing transactions are around Aberdeen, the Granite City itself has the biggest decrease with a 22.38% drop in the five years between 2013 and 2018 and the outlying county of Aberdeenshire also saw a decrease, this time of 15.67%
To find out the number of transactions this year and those of five years ago we used Land Registry transaction data to see the number of transactions in each local authority district for April 2015-March 2016 and April 2020-March 2021, before calculating the increase/decrease in transactions across this period for each area.
For the Scottish areas, data was sourced from statistics.gov.scot and relates to the 2013 and 2018 calendar years.