Census data highlights North Norfolk's demographic challenges
- Credit: Archant / Supplied
North Norfolk's aging population will throw up increasing challenges across health, social care and housing, leaders have said, although the area continues to be a "fantastic place" to live and retire.
It comes amid the first data release from last year's census, which has shown North Norfolk has become the first local authority in England and Wales where one in every three people (33.4pc) is aged 65 years and over.
The data, gathered on March 21 last year, showed that over the past decade North Norfolk saw a rise of 17.8pc in people aged 65+ years, a 5.6pc decrease in those aged 15 to 64 years, and a decrease of 4pc in children aged under 15 years.
Tim Adams, North Norfolk District Council leader, said the area remained a popular place to grow older, drawing "internal migration" from across the country.
Mr Adams said the demographic balance presented challenges in a range of sectors.
He said: "Social care is, as we know, under huge pressure and I come across increasing numbers of older residents now with unmet care needs who are waiting for capacity in local domiciliary home care companies."
Mr Adams said addressing this issue - as well as that of salaries - was necessary, but would be costly.
He added: "Arguably, we also need more tools to address housing for the working age population as the current pressures will be impacting on those who work in social care significantly.
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"There is obviously a significant pressure on housing in North Norfolk, and providing new purpose built properties such as extra-care housing where people can live independently for as long as possible without the need for residential or domiciliary care will be essential."
Mr Adams said despite the challenges, North Norfolk was a "fantastic place" for older people to stay active and healthy, with strong communities, sports clubs, outdoor activities and facilities on offer.
The census data also shows that North Norfolk is the least densely populated council area of the 45 in the East of England.
According to the Office for National Statistics figures, there is the equivalent of one football pitch for each North Norfolk resident - a vast difference from Tower Hamlets in London at the other end of the scale, where there are 112 residents per pitch.
North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said services needed to keep improving to cater for the country's older demographic.
Mr Baker said this was why he had been campaigning for better healthcare for the region, and said better care for those following strokes - more prevalent in older people - was among north Norfolk's key needs.
He said: "The expansion of services at Cromer Hospital, improvements in social care, better dentistry and reduction in ambulance response times are all key to assisting the growing needs of my residents.
"Just because an area is not heavily populated doesn’t mean its needs are any less and that’s an argument I make to the government every week."
North Norfolk has also had the lowest population increase in the region since the previous census in 2011, rising at just 1.4pc - compared to 8.3pc for the East of England. The district's population rose from 101,500 to 103,000 over the decade.