Brighton is the worst place for young and old people living in separate areas and not mixing together, according to researchers.
The city centre has become more youthful while outer-lying neighbourhoods have aged. According to think tank Intergenerational Foundation, more than 25% of young adults, almost a quarter of retirees, and 15% of children would need to move for Brighton to become more aged-balanced.
Young people are becoming increasingly concentrated in city centre neighbourhoods, where they are much more likely to be renters, while suburbs and outlying settlements are ageing because generation rent cannot afford to move to them as they once did.
The study looked at age segregation – the division of individuals within society on the basis of their age. Brighton only comes behind Cardiff in terms of age segregation in the UK.
The think tank claims the rise in the number of students over the last 25 years has particularly increased segregation.
The student population in Brighton and Hove has increased by 7 per cent in proportion of population. The University of Brighton has 21,000 students alone, while the University of Sussex has 21,000.
Ordnance Survey data maps show the most youthful neighbourhoods are clustered along the A270 Lewes Road corridor which connects the seafront with Falmer and both universities.
Intergenerational Foundation (IF), a think tank that researches fairness between generations, said age segregation has a detrimental effect.
They claim it undermines social contact between old and young, and increases care costs as it makes it harder for young and old to look after each other. IF also claim politicians give more attention to elderly areas, as they are more likely to vote.
Angus Hanton, IF co-founder, said: “Across England and Wales, on average, just 5 per cent of the people living in the same neighbourhood as someone under 18 are over 65, compared to 15 per cent in 1991.
“This is hugely damaging to intergenerational relations. It weakens the bonds between the generations, and leads to a lack of understanding of, and empathy for, other generations.”
Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Legal & General, which supported the research, added: “We have created an intergenerationally unfair society. We need to take bold steps to reverse the negative trends of the last thirty years.
“This will involve not only an increase in housing supply of 100,000 a year of all tenures, but also a step up in investment in modern infrastructure and modern industries to create the jobs of the future.
“Legal and General will continue to step up and we are encouraged by the positive signals of intent from the new government.”
THINK TANK: LET PEOPLE TURN TOP FLOORS INTO FLATS
Solving the housing crisis and fixing the UK’s economic imbalances could resolve the UK’s age segregation.
The Intergenerational Foundation (IF) think tank argues an enormous amount of new housing units could potentially be unlocked by making it much easier for people living in large homes to subdivide them without having to get planning permission.
Another benefit of this approach is that it would enable older people who want to downsize but are too attached to their existing communities to move to subdivide the top storey of their home.
They could rent or sell the resulting a one-bedroom flat to a younger occupant.
One of the by-products of this would be to increase the level of age mixing within the communities.
The majority of subdivided homes would belong to older people, while the people occupying the new units would predominantly be much younger.
Unfortunately, the type of accommodation which is suitable for older downsizers is often not available in cities so they are effectively forced to move to rural areas – which makes age segregation worse.
IF also argues planners could target the creation of mixed-age communities by making it a specific objective of their local plans.
They could try to ensure that new developments contain a wide mix of housing types and a variety of tenures, which are likely to facilitate mixed-age communities.
In particular, they should try to avoid new developments being occupied by only one age group, as unfortunately seems likely to happen with initiatives which target specific age groups, such as Starter Homes.