Census reveals English towns, villages and cities with the oldest populations - and most are on the coast

The English towns, villages and cities with the oldest populations have been revealed, according to the Census - here are the areas people seem to be happy to spend retirement

Seaside villages in Hampshire, Lincolnshire and Devon are among the smallest built-up areas in England with the oldest populations, new figures show. The residents of Barton-on-Sea, near Lymington on the Hampshire coast, have a median average age of 65 – the highest among all similarly-sized communities outside London.

It is followed by Sutton on Sea and Trusthorpe in Lincolnshire, where the median age is 64 years, Budleigh Salterton in Devon (62 years) and Seaton, also in Devon (61 years). All these places have a normal, residential population of between 5,000 and 19,999 and are classed as large villages or small towns by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which has published the analysis.

The findings are the latest data to be released from the census, which took place on March 21 2021. They show that of the top 30 small built-up areas in England with the highest median age at the time of the census, only seven are not situated on the coast.

Stoke Gifford in South Gloucestershire has the lowest median age among large villages and small towns, at just 27 years, followed by two areas that have British Army sites: Tidworth in Wiltshire (28 years) and Catterick in North Yorkshire (29 years). The ONS analysis does not include London, because of the difficulty in identifying individual built-up areas across the capital.

For medium-sized towns outside London, where the population is between 20,000 and 74,999, Rustington in West Sussex has the highest median age, at 56 years; followed by Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire and Seaford in East Sussex (all 54 years). Coastal areas again dominate the high end of this list, with only 12 of top 30 not being by the sea.

By contrast, the medium-sized towns with the lowest median age all have sizeable student populations: Canterbury in Kent (27 years) and Hatfield in Hertfordshire (30 years), along with Loughborough in Leicestershire, Egham in Surrey and Durham in County Durham (all 31 years). Southport (48 years) ranked top of the list among large towns – where the population is between 75,000 and 199,999 – followed by Chesterfield, Eastbourne and Royal Sutton Coldfield (all 45 years).

The large town with the lowest median age is Salford (29 years), followed by Oxford, Oldham and Cambridge (31 years): all areas with big student communities. Among major cities, where the population numbers at least 200,000, Plymouth topped the list (39 years) and Nottingham and Manchester were bottom (both 30 years).

A total of 6,406 built-up areas were identified in England outside London in the 2021 census. These include 5,115 “minor” areas: hamlets or tiny villages, where the population is recorded as being between zero and 4,999 and often numbers only a few hundred people.

Some of these areas have an even higher median average age than those found among larger-sized villages – for example, Golden Cross in East Sussex and Torksey Lock in Lincolnshire (both 74 years) and Coalpit Heath in South Gloucestershire (72 years).

The privately-owned retirement village of Elmbridge in Surrey has the highest median age of all, at 84 years.

The figures represent the most detailed breakdown of census data by age and location to be released so far. Previous data was limited to local authority areas.

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