Population growth in Bedford over two-and-a-half times national average

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Bedford Town Centre

Bedford’s population has grown two-and-a-half times higher than the national average, according to the first results from the 2021 Census.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) published the initial data yesterday (Tuesday), looking at the places that have seen the biggest increases and decreases and how Bedford compares to other local authorities.

The Census is taken every 10 years to give a snapshot of where we are as a nation. The census asks questions about you, your household and your home to build a detailed snapshot of our society.
Information from the census helps the government and local authorities to plan and fund local services, such as education, doctors’ surgeries and roads.

Population increase in Bedford and Cambridge

Census data 2022 - regional map Bedford population
The latest census data has revealed a big jump in Bedford’s population over the last 10 years.

The population of England and Wales has increased by more than 3.5 million in the 10 years leading up to Census 2021.

The English region with the largest population increase was the East of England, which grew by around 8.3% or 488,000 more residents.

The Census shows that the biggest population increases in the East of England have been seen in Bedford and Cambridge.

In Bedford, the population size has increased by 17.7%, from around 157,500 in 2011 to 185,300 in 2021.

This is over two-and-a-half times higher than the overall increase for England (6.6%), where the population grew by nearly 3.5 million to 56,489,800.

Ageing population

Overall, in England, there has been an increase of 20.1% in people aged 65 years and over, an increase of 3.6% in people aged 15 to 64 years, and an increase of 5.0% in children aged under 15 years.

Bedford has seen an above-average increase in the number of people aged 65 years and over (25.5%).

At 15.7%, the number of people aged 15 to 64 years is four times the national average and an increase of 18.6% in children aged under 15 years.

In 2021, Bedford’s total population ranked 103rd out of 309 local authority areas in England, moving up 16 places in a decade.

Residents per square kilometre in England

Census 2021 data reveals there are three people for every football pitch-sized piece of land in England.

There were 434 residents per square kilometre in England in 2021, up from 407 per square kilometre in 2011.

Population density varies from area to area, as we can see when we compare Bedford’s population density to that of Tower Hamlets.

Census data 2022 - Bedford population density comparison
Bedford Borough is the 19th least densely populated in the East of England, the equivalent of three people living on a football pitch. By comparison, Tower Hamlets in London has around 112 people per football pitch.

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