Felixstowe facing uphill struggle
FELIXSTOWE is today suffering from an ageing population with its youngsters moving away because of too few well-paid jobs.According to new research the town is losing its "brightest minds and most able individuals" and they are not returning as there is little to attract them.
FELIXSTOWE is today suffering from an ageing population with its youngsters moving away because of too few well-paid jobs.
According to new research the town is losing its "brightest minds and most able individuals" and they are not returning as there is little to attract them.
It claims it has a lack of affordable housing and paints a picture of a town in crisis.
Experts have warned if the trends continue then it could become critical to the viability and vitality of the resort.
The research reveals 48 per cent of the people who work in the town commute from outside it and earnings for residents are well below the national average.
At a time when health chiefs say two hospitals cannot be afforded and Felixstowe General may close, consultants looking at the town's future say there will be even more pressure than ever on its doctors, hospitals and care services.
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Leading town planning and urban design David Lock Associates have been commissioned to put together a masterplan for the future of Felixstowe to show how it can be regenerated.
They have been working on the £100,000 project for the past couple of months and on Friday and Saturday from 10am to 6pm will be asking residents for their views on some of the main issues.
A marquee is being set up on The Triangle in Hamilton Road and people will be able to view an exhibition on population changes, housing, economy, education and transport, speak to the experts and fill in a questionnaire. If the weather is bad, the event will take place in the Spa Pavilion.
Lawrence Revill, of David Lock Associates, who is leading the panel of experts, said: "We have been asked to help the people of Felixstowe chart a course for the future of the town.
"We have come to understand that there are lots of things about Felixstowe that are really great – the Edwardian architecture, the seafront and the gardens, the economic power and importance of the port and the pride that local people have in the town.
"But we have also come to understand that the town is facing some important challenges that need to be addressed – an ageing population, falling school rolls, increasing commuting and congestion, the continuing decline of the town as a holiday resort.
"We do not think that Felixstowe can simply stand still, but we want local people to tell us how they would like to see the town change."
The experts say the port is dominant in the town and employment needs to be diversified. The port and commuting is also causing congestion on the A14 on which the town has a "fragile dependency".
Property specialist Stephen Pritchard, of BBP, said: "Housing has not kept pace with growth in jobs at the port which means that there are more people looking for homes than there are houses. House prices have risen and are not affordable for a lot of families, particularly young people."
Fatcfile: Felixstowe . . . the facts
n The town has more people of retirement age and fewer of working age than normal – 28 per cent are over 60 years old, compared with 20pc nationally.
n Between 1991-2001, its population grew by 6.6pc but there was a reduction of 18-29 year olds of 5.7pc and a growth of people aged 45-64 of 7.4pc. In 2001, 51pc of those moving from the town were aged between 16 and 34.
n Each day 6,319 people drive down the A14 to work in Felixstowe – 48pc of the town's employment numbers.
n The port employs 2,700 and a further 9,850 work in port-related businesses, including people whose work takes them away from the town such as truckers.
n The port provides low skill, low pay work – average earnings in the town are £365 a week compared with £416 nationally.
n Schools in the town have a capacity for 4,593 children but there are only 4,114 in school and this number is expected to fall to 3,729 by 2010.
n Projections for 2010 show that some schools could become unviable and unsustainable and may have to be rationalised.
n Felixstowe has a lack of affordable housing, forcing its young families to leave and denying key workers, such as health, education, social and care staff, a place to live.