Amol Rajan: We are on the verge of a great migration from cities

FreeView from the editors at i

Share

Lovely, lush, liveable Lincolnshire, in which I spent a chunk of the Bank Holiday weekend, is where I suspect most of my generation will end up. There and other places – Kent, Surrey, Cambridge, Oxford, Buckingham – that are within commuting distance of London, where our jobs will be, but not in the city proper. Hampshire, not Hampstead, will be where we raise families and make homes. That's because soon the only people who will be able to afford homes in London will be Bob Diamond, X-Factor contestants, and the Queen.

Property prices, as regular readers will know, strikes me as clearly one of the great scourges and injustices of our society, never mind a huge source of economic instability. Yesterday I was in a little Lincolnshire hamlet called Osbournby, where a beautiful six-bedroom Yeoman's House with a garden the size of half a football pitch is on sale for around £650K. In London, that could barely get you a 4-bedroom house in Tooting, where I grew up; if it did, the garden would be too small to play cricket in, the key determinant of a garden's merit.

Not far from Osbournby there are fine state schools, and what with Grantham being 20 minutes drive away, and trains getting into London in an hour from there, the commute is certainly bearable. In London, state schools are terrifyingly over-subscribed, crime is much higher, and space is at a much greater premium.

That is why we are on the verge of a great migration. A few years ago a much misinterpreted report by Policy Exchange, a think tank, noted that many northern cities that were former industrial heartlands have lost their raison'd'etre. Our best hope, the report argued, was to invest heavily in the satellite towns around major cities, and encourage people and businesses to move there.

Simply abandoning the former industrial towns decimated by globalisation would be cruel and ineffective; but it does seem to me that for a vast proportion of the professional classes, life in the capital is so intolerably expensive that following the Policy Exchange formula is a necessity. A suburban flourishing would then take place, with satellite towns growing at a dizzying pace.

Of course the professional classes have always commuted in; but London house prices are so high that they will soon have to do so from much further out.

As a result, the average age in our cities will become lower, as older home-owners head for the hills, and young workers and recent migrants live five to a flat in the inner city. Lincolnshire, which admittedly has few hills, is ripe for an influx of pinched families, but don't tell the locals.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links