About East Suffolk
Located on the east coast of England, East Suffolk has a strong, diverse and dynamic economy with a wide range of opportunities for future growth alongside major economic, cultural, heritage and environmental assets.
The largest town is Lowestoft with a population of around 70,000 and home to just under a third of the 240,000 people who live within East Suffolk. Almost 50 miles away and to the south, Felixstowe is the second largest settlement home to around 25,000 people. Then there are smaller market towns – like Woodbridge, Leiston, Framlingham, Halesworth, Beccles, and Bungay – which are distributed around East Suffolk and typically have populations of 5,000-10,000 people.
Most of these settlements are connected principally by the A12 – which forms a “north-south spine” through East Suffolk and extends from London, Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich in the south to Lowestoft in the north. The north of East Suffolk (Lowestoft in particular) continues to have strong links to Great Yarmouth and, via the A47, to Norwich (about 30 miles away). There is also a rail link through East Suffolk which provides onward connections to Norwich and London. This pattern is confirmed through Travel to Work Area definitions, and it continues to help shape the character of economic activity across East Suffolk.
East Suffolk has a wide-ranging portfolio of cultural, heritage and environmental assets and a very distinctive and diverse visitor economy. It is home to outstanding landscapes of rivers, estuaries and nature reserves (some within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) as well as the ‘southern gateway’ to the Broads National Park and a coastline that extends for close to fifty miles. Major heritage assets range from Anglo-Saxon archaeology and the birthplace of radar at Bawdsey to castles, forts and museums. It is an area which people enjoy, and many choose to spend their leisure time there.
The area also hosts economic assets and opportunities that are amongst the most significant anywhere in the UK and are defining features of East Suffolk’s current economic character and its future potential. These include the UK’s busiest container port at Felixstowe, the home of BT’s Global Research and Development Headquarters at Adastral Park in Martlesham, major developments in offshore and renewable energy in Lowestoft and potential future growth surrounding nuclear power in relation to Sizewell.
Alongside these national assets is another important narrative which relates in part to the micro- and small businesses that are found across the area. In total, there are over 9,000 businesses within East Suffolk and the vast majority of these are small (with fewer than 10 employees). In addition, there is a high incidence of self-employment, particularly in the south of the area.