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Populations of Gosport and Fareham less than expected

and exploring the Census 2021 first results, Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas found nearly a quarter of the population of Fareham borough is aged 65+ …

GOSPORT borough’s population declined between 2011 and 2021 while that of Fareham rose but not by as much as expected according to the first results of the 2021 Census carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

On Census Day Sunday, March 21, 2021, the ‘usual resident’ population of Gosport borough was 81,900 – down 0.9 per cent on the comparable 2011 figure – while Fareham borough’s population stood 2.6 per cent higher at 114,500. The population figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred and precise statistics will be published later.

Both borough populations are lower than the mid-year estimates for 2021 which had been 83,673 for Gosport and 115,577 for Fareham though the ONS admits, “the potential for error in [mid-year estimates] increases over time between censuses.”

It also points out that the 2021 census was carried out in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and this, “may have affected some people’s place of usual residence”.

‘not a cause of any concern to the council’

Commenting on the small fall in the population of Gosport, the borough council’s Leader Councillor Peter Chegwyn told The Globe: “Gosport’s population has remained largely static as we’ve had no large-scale housing developments over recent years, whereas neighbouring authorities like Eastleigh and Fareham have embarked on major house-building programmes, often on greenfield sites.”

“The new administration running Gosport Borough Council has a policy of not supporting new housing developments on greenfield sites.

“The slight fall in Gosport’s population could be the result of a continuing slow decline in the number of serving MoD personnel living on MoD bases in Gosport or in the community. It’s not a cause of any concern to the council. We’re totally relaxed about the figures but we do expect Gosport’s population to rise slightly as new housing developments at HMS Daedalus and elsewhere take effect in coming years.”

Another element of the ONS census data published so far is that Gosport has the third highest population density – 3,228 usual residents per square kilometre – in Hampshire. Portsmouth with a figure of 5,153 has the highest population density in South East England outside London, and the statistic for Southampton is 4,992.

The population density in Fareham borough – 1,542 usual residents per square kilometre – is less than half that of Gosport.

Quarter of Fareham’s population is aged 65+

The rise in the population of Fareham is lower than the increase in England and Wales – up 6.3 per cent on the 2011 to stand at 59,597,300 – and the census found nearly a quarter of the borough’s usual residents are aged 65 or over.

This puts Fareham above such well-known south coast retirement locations as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole where 21.6 per cent of the population are in the 65+ age group, and Worthing – with a figure of 22.4 per cent – though less than the 29.3 per cent on the Isle of Wight.

Although often considered to be a count of the population at a point in time, the ONS accepts there will be inaccuracies and refers to the census statistics as ‘estimates’.

Having said that and with much more data to come, ONS Deputy National Statistician Pete Benton was able to highlight the importance of the census for all sectors of the economy including national and local government.

He said: “Ultimately, the full suite of census results, based on the information we all gave, will ensure decisions about how the billions of pounds we spend each year as a nation are made using the best possible evidence.

“This includes planning our emergency services, mental health care, school places, hospital beds, houses, roads, buses, trains, trams, GPs and dentists’ services.”

Photograph (top) Leader of Gosport Borough Council Councillor Peter Chegwyn. Gosport Borough Council.