Exeter has seen a marked fall in the proportion of people owning their own home with a mortgage in the wake of the banking and housing crash.
The 2011 census reveals 30 per cent of around 49,000 households lived in a property which they had bought with a loan, compared to 36 per cent a decade earlier.
At the same time the proportion of households renting from a private landlord or letting agency had risen from 13 per cent in 2001 to 20 per cent last year.
Surrounding areas also showed a fall in mortgage-holders as a proportion of all households from 2001 to 2011.
In East Devon it fell from 32 per cent to 28 per cent; Teignbridge from 38 per cent to 33 per cent; and Mid Devon from 36 per cent to 32 per cent.
It has sparked warnings that the housing market is ‘broken’, reflecting a growing trend among young people and families who are unable to get a foot on the property ladder.
If the current pattern continues, the next generation will bring up their families in insecure rented properties or at home with their parents, according to the housing charity Shelter.
Campbell Robb, the charity's chief executive, said:
“Today’s broken housing market isn't the result of the credit crunch or mortgage lending, but decades of underinvestment in building the affordable homes we need.
“The Government has got to get a grip on this situation now; otherwise the chances of the next generation getting an affordable home look increasingly bleak.”
The once-in-a-decade population survey also revealed the number of residents in Exeter increased over the period from 111,076 to 117,773 in 2011.
In East Devon, the population total rose from 125,520 to 132,457, in Teignbridge from 120,958 to 124,220, and in Mid Devon from 69,774 to 77,750.
The proportion of Exeter residents who give their religion as Christian has also plummeted from 69 per cent in 2001 to 54 per cent last year.
Meanwhile, those declared themselves to be of no religion rocketed from 20 per cent to 35 per cent.
In the run-up to the survey the British Humanist Association (BHA) ran a campaign encouraging non-religious people to tick the “no religion” box on the census form.
The statistics emerged as the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed that English cathedral congregations had grown dramatically in recent years, debunking the ‘cliché’ that the Church of England is fading away.
The census data released detailed the characteristics of people living in 348 local authorities across England and Wales, covering topics including ethnicity, country of birth, health and housing.
It also reveals that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of Exeter’s households do not have a car, which is largely unchanged from the 28 per cent recorded in 2001.
Over the period, the number of cars on Exeter’s roads has risen by nearly 5,000 to around 52,000 last year – a hike of 11 per cent.
Guy Goodwin, the ONS’s director of census, said: “These statistics paint a picture of society and help us all plan for the future using accurate information at a local level.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg of census statistics. Further rich layers of vital information will be revealed as we publish more detailed data for very local levels over the coming months.”