The population of parts of the West Midlands has grown three times more than the number of new homes built, the Express & Star can reveal today.
More than 331,400 extra people are living in the West Midlands now compared with 10 years ago.
Council bosses have welcomed statistics showing areas such as the Black Country are growing but are concerned that there are not enough homes for people to live in.
But there were calls today for action to boost the construction industry and get new homes built.
In the past year Wolverhampton had passed the quarter of a million threshold for population.
Council leaders fear that cuts to their budgets, coupled with a lack of new homes being built, will add to the burden on the public purse at a time when their services are being slashed.
Sandwell’s population has grown by nine per cent to 311,300 since 2002, according to the latest available figures. But even though it had the biggest growth in house building, there were only 6,610 new homes compared with a population that grew by 25,700.
Sandwell has had more than the national average for England that shows a 7.6 per cent population rise.
Stafford’s population has risen by 10,530 – 8.7 per cent – to 131,630, while Walsall’s has risen by 6.5 per cent to 270,900.
Cannock Chase has also seen an increase, with an additional 5,240 living in the area, bringing the total to 97,940 – a 5.7 per cent rise. The number of people living in Dudley has risen by just 2.6 per cent, although it is still the most heavily populated part of the Black Country.
John Spellar, MP for Warley, said the increase was a sign the borough was improving.
He said: “There has been a lot of development. You only have to look at somewhere like Cape Hill Brewery to see that lots of new homes have been built and have attracted people to live in them.
“We are also seeing jobs coming back as well. Companies like Dynamic Parcel Delivery and 2 Sisters Food Group have increased their workforces.
“The Black Country is a place that people want to live in. The concerns I have are about the availability of school places. The government has been completely negative about that. But we’re seeing vacant land sites being used for new housing and hopefully that will be good for the economy.”
But there is still a shortage of new housing, according to council leaders. Developments such as the £50 million scheme by Redrow at Compton Park in Wolverhampton have brought investment. But the site is for 55 new homes while others across the city are still far short of what is needed.
St Modwen is also building 369 homes on the historic former Goodyear plot while an Aldi supermarket is already trading. But figures show there are 11,900 more people in Wolverhampton now than 10 years ago and just 3,670 new homes built in that time.
Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said the population increase brought mixed feelings.
He said: “We had 260,000 living in Wolverhampton at one stage within living memory.
“It does put pressure on services. Part of the increase in population is the rising number of births over the last nine or 10 years.
“We’ve had to increase the size of our primary schools. There are going to be pressures on that. Another reason for the increase is that people are living longer.
“That’s great but given the public health statistics for Wolverhampton we have many people living longer but not in good health.
“But the market is turning and we hope that people will start building.
“We’re at the mercy of the market.”
Labour’s shadow housing minister and MP for Wolverhampton North East Emma Reynolds said people were also living longer.
She said: “That’s something to celebrate.
“But I am sure that there are people in multiple occupancy properties living in cramped accommodation.
“People can’t afford to buy or rent their own homes. That’s a real problem.
“House prices are increasing, although not in the West Midlands as much as elsewhere.
“Wolverhampton as a council has done a good jobs of granting planning permission but it doesn’t mean that houses will be built unless there’s a market for it.”
The population rise in the Black Country accounts for around 18.7 per cent of the West Midlands increase.
Meanwhile the West Midlands accounts for 8.7 per cent of total rise in England.