One in five people living in Britain will be from an ethnic minority by 2051, according to research from the University of Leeds.

Currently ethnic minorities account for around eight per cent of the British population, however immigration and slow population growth among the white British population are likely to change that drastically.

Along with a rise in the number and proportion of ethnic minority Britons there is expected to be a significant dispersal of ethnic minorities away from deprived areas to more affluent locations across the country, reducing some of the segregation which has become a feature of modern Britain.

Although nationally only eight per cent of people are from a non-white British background, according to the figures, in some parts of London and other major cities ethnic minorities account for over 50 per cent of the population, sometimes leading to ethnic tensions.

In 2008 the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali courted controversy when he said that some places with high Muslim populations had become "no go areas". He subsequently received death threats from Islamic fundamentalists.

The Leeds research suggests that by 2051 the population of Britain could reach 78 million, up from 59 million as of 2001. The population of White British, White Irish and Black Caribbean groups is likely to see the slowest growth.

By contrast the population of Australasians, Americans, Europeans and those of mixed race are likely to grow at the fastest rate. Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshi's are also likely to see strong population growth.

The research was lead by Professor Philip Rees, who said, "The ethnic makeup of UK's population is evolving significantly. Groups outside the White British majority are increasing in size and share, not just in the areas of initial migration, but throughout the country and our projections suggest that this trend is set to continue through to 2051.

"At a regional level, ethnic minorities will shift out of deprived inner city areas to more affluent areas, which echoes the way white groups have migrated in the past. In particular black and Asian populations in the least deprived local authorities will increase significantly."

However Professor Rees added that the findings of the research should be viewed with caution, "It is impossible to predict exactly how people will move into, out of and within the country the coming decades as all of these trends are influenced by a whole range of socio-economic factors. However, our results suggest that overall we can look forward to being not only a more diverse nation, but one that is far more spatially integrated than at present."

The research was conducted by making computer projections based on the 2001 census and demographic factors like immigration, emigration, mortality and fertility.