Chorley district


This summary offers a snapshot of some of the most important economic, social and environmental factors in Chorley district with links through to the source information. The information has been allocated to one of seven themes:

  1. Children and Young People
  2. People and Communities
  3. Economic Development
  4. Community Safety
  5. Environment and Transport
  6. Health and Wellbeing
  7. Older People


Chorley is a district in central Lancashire that occupies a prime strategic location. The authority covers 203 square kilometres and the number of people per km² is similar to the North West average. It has 14 wards for which Census 2021 profiles are available. These appear as starter pages showing just the population, but around 30 Census topics can be added. From an historic point of view there have been dramatic changes and the pace of future change is liable to increase. 

  1. Children and Young People

Key stage 4 covers the two years of school education that incorporates GCSEs in maintained schools. A new secondary school GCSE accountability system was implemented in 2016, in which 'Attainment 8' measures achievement in maths and English plus other subjects with less weighting. In 2021/22 the average score was 50.7 in Chorley district. This was some way ahead of the average of 47.6 for the Lancashire County Council area. The Department for Education achievement and attainment tables have more information on achievement at other levels. 

For young children and parents the county council's Children and Family Wellbeing Service has a search facility for local centres. The five in the district are the Chorley, Clayton Green and Eccleston Neighbourhood Centres,  Duke Street  and Highfield Children and Family Wellbeing Services.

There are 62 schools in Chorley, of which 51 are primary and six secondary. A full list of schools in Lancashire is available. Ofsted inspection reports and the GOV.UK web page on schools performance are useful sources of local information.

The county council's Young People's Service website has an activity and organisations search facility that lists a wide range of options for young people in each of the 12 districts within the county council area. 

Business Intelligence and Public Health analysts at Lancashire County Council have produced Child health profiles for districts in Lancashire, including both district and ward elements for Chorley, and bringing together key indicators from Fingertips, the public health data collection from the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID).

  1. People and Communities

The population in the authority has been increasing at a remarkably fast rate rising from 97,000 in 1991 to nearly 118,000 in 2021. The mid-year population estimate for 2022 was 118,624. One of the first Census outputs made available was an interactive tool that compares the 2021 results with 2011 for local authorities. Using this we can see that the population aged under 15 increased by 10.2%, and the population aged 65 and over increased by 34.7%, between Censuses.

Local authority live births and deaths graphs are available that track changes in births and deaths since the 1980s for each authority in Lancashire. The graph for Chorley indicates that live births normally exceeded deaths over the long-term but because of the Covid-19 pandemic most districts, including Chorley, had more deaths than births in 2020 and subsequently. The number of deaths in each month of 2021 - 2023 can be seen in the monthly mortality graph slide on the Lancashire Insight Covid-19 intelligence web page.

Graph of live births, deaths and difference between the two in Chorley from 1981 onwards. In 2022 there were 1,051 live births and 1,274 deaths

It is estimated that between 2018 and 2043 the population of Chorley will increase by 17.8%, the highest predicted growth rate by some way in Lancashire-14. The number of households in the authority is projected to increase by a substantial 24.4% between 2018 and 2043. This is the second largest expected growth rate in the Lancashire-14 area and exceeds the predicted percentage growth in households in England of 16.2%.  

The median house price to median earnings ratio places the authority well about the average for the county council area.  

Chorley has around 52,600 dwellings of which 86% are owner occupied or private rented. On the whole, there are larger proportions of housing stock in the higher council tax bands in comparison to the county average. It has, over recent years, also recorded strong growth in the number of dwellings in the authority. Chorley district has a smaller percentage of its housing stock in the lowest council tax band A compared to the Lancashire-14 area average of 39%.

In some recent years the number of net additional dwellings in Chorley district have expanded at a higher rate than other Lancashire authorities, particularly during 2011/12 to 2015/16, but this housebuilding boom may have ended by 2020/21.

In Chorley, 11.1% of households were in fuel poverty in 2021, which was lower than the England rate of 13.1%. The main factors that determine this are the energy efficiency status of the property, the cost of energy; and household income.

The 2019 Indices of Deprivation  reveals that of out of 317 districts and unitary authorities in England, Chorley was ranked the 192nd most deprived by the rank of average LSOA rank.

ONS has produced a set of residential-based area classifications using analysis of the 2011 Census. These are for very small statistical areas, but we have identified the most common groups for the electoral wards. Residents in six of Chorley's wards mostly fit into the 'Semi-Detached Suburbia' group and those in another four wards the 'Rural Tenants' group.

  1. Economic Development

The growth in employee numbers in Chorley was well above the national and county averages in the decade to 2008,  though the latest employment number for the authority is currently around one thousand less than what it was in 2009.                    

In Chorley as in most places, the manufacturing sector has shed jobs over the years whilst the service sector has grown to become a far greater source of employment. Chorley has a lower rate of employee jobs in the manufacturing sector than is the norm in the county and nationally and conversely a higher rate of employment in the service sector generally, but in particular as a result of the authority's high level of employment in real estate, professional, scientific and administrative sector

Our extensive employment records allow us to monitor the changes to employee numbers from 1929 onwards. We have published separate graphs for each of the 14 Lancashire local authorities that reveal changes in total employee numbers and the shift from manufacturing to service sector employment. Methodological changes, and assumptions for missing years, reduce the accuracy of the graphs, but they do give a useful broad indication of changes over time. The Chorley graph is ls displayed below and highlights the strong employment growth that has occurred in the authority over the long-term. 

Graph of employee jobs in Chorley from 1929 onwards showing relative share between manufacturing, services and other industries

In 2023, there were 4,535 active enterprises in Chorley. Over four thousand of these had under ten employees. There were over 400 enterprises in the 10-49 employees category, but only around 15 had more than 250. The authority is in an excellent business location that will be further enhanced by developments such as the 128 acre Revolution logistics and industrial park that forms part of the Buckshaw Village site. 

The most recent company in Chorley to win a Queen's Award for Enterprise is GA Pet Food Partners in 2016.

Chorley is part of central Lancashire which operates as a relatively well-connected internal labour market with strong commuter flows between Preston, South Ribble and Chorley. Chorley also stands out as a supplier of labour to the Manchester city region, especially Bolton and Wigan. These northern Manchester districts are experiencing economic challenges and restructuring and have not benefited substantially from the strong economic growth in the core of Manchester. The 2011 census confirmed that Chorley had a low percentage (39.1%) of people aged 16+ who lived and worked within the authority.   

The UK government properties database is a searchable list of all UK government property holdings and land assets. The web page for the North West region lists land and properties by towns including those in Chorley district.

Average earnings in Chorley are noticeably higher when measured by place of residence in comparison to place of work. The excellent transport connections to Manchester and other localities mean that the district records a positive benefit from commuter flows. Both figures are however below the GB average. The 2011 census results reveal how employment patterns results in a much lower workday population figure for Chorley in comparison to the usual resident population. The article also shows that there is a large net outflow of well-qualified commuters (NVQ level 4). 

The survey of personal incomes by HM Revenue and customs broadly includes all individuals whose income is higher than the prevailing personal tax allowance and who are therefore liable to tax. The median results are the middle value that best reflects typical income and they show a result for Chorley that is above the regional average.

Housing benefit is claimed by a large number of households in the authority, and the article identifies the effects of the spare room subsidy withdrawal.  

The town centre of Chorley is destined to benefit from the Future High Streets Fund, launched in 2018, and indirectly from a mix of funding sources which also includes the Future High Streets Fund, but channelled through the High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme.

  1. Community Safety

The recorded crime article reveals that Chorley has a crime rate below the average for the Lancashire-14 area. See the LG Inform Quarterly Report on Crime and Disorder by Local Authority.

For more details on community safety in your neighbourhood, please enter your postcode or ward into the window in the Local area community safety statistics web page.

Alcohol is known to contribute to offending behaviour, particularly violence, anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.  Residents in the authority have significantly worse hospital stays due to alcohol and binge drinking than the national average according to the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England).

In 2022, a total of 73 people were killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in the authority.  

Chorley has two of the four prisons in Lancashire within its area, Garth and Wymott. Together they account for a large proportion of the prison spaces in the county and are a significant source of local employment.

  1. Environment and Transport

Transport has a key role to play in realising the economic potential of an area by unlocking key locations, such as the existing and new locations referred to in the economy section.  Using sustainable transport modes can significantly improve employment opportunities and life chances. In urban areas the reliance on the car presents problems of traffic congestion and reduced air quality. The urban core central area of the authority has one area close to the M61 motorway that has an air quality result amongst the worst in the county. 60.2% of the total 989.9 tonnes of nitrogen oxides estimated to be emitted in the district in 2020 was attributed to road transport sources.

The Central Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan is the strategic transport document for the wider area and contains references to transport issues in the authority.

The M6, M61 and M65 motorways all pass through the authority and offer quick connections to other parts of the county and beyond. There is also a network of 'A' roads. The Department for Transport website has an interactive map that lists the traffic flows at hundreds of sites across all of the Lancashire County Council area.

There are five railway stations in the authority with Chorley being by far the most important. Buckshaw Village station has recorded some noticeable growth since it opened in October 2011.    

Maps are available that reveal the various rural-urban definitions across Lancashire down to the very small census output area level.

The National Biodiversity Network Gateway acts as a “data warehouse” for biodiversity information, which can be quickly and easily accessed to understand the distribution of particular species in the UK. Much of the local data is supplied by the Lancashire Environment Record Network (LERN), which is hosted by Lancashire County Council. An interactive map on this site shows the extent of the Environmental Record Centre coverage, including the LERN area, and when adding a species using the 'Add to Map' control, records of their sightings are displayed.

Green belts have been an enduring element of national planning policy. They check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas; prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another; assist in safeguarding the countryside, preserve the character of historic towns and encourage the recycling of derelict and other urban land. Chorley has a very high proportion (71.8%) of its land designated as green belt. There is extensive countryside and Chorley Borough Council is responsible for the many parks and open spaces in the area that cover over 300 hectares.

Total carbon dioxide emissions in Chorley are higher than the national average when measured by tonnage per person. There is a high level of emissions of air pollutants from road transport as a result of the authority's position at the heart of the county's motorway network. Mortality attributed to poor air quality was better than the England average in 2019.

The rates of household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting have in general been improving over the years as sharp increases in Landfill Tax has made the traditional form of Landfill disposal much more expensive. The household waste reuse, recycling and composting rate for Chorley in 2021/22 was 46.7%.

The legacy of former mine workings in the area was highlighted in 2015, when the  coal authority published development risk plans and specific risk plans that included a set for Chorley district.

Lancashire County Council supports various projects in district authorities via a range of grants and funding options. 

  1. Health and Wellbeing

Figures for life expectancy at birth reveal that Chorley district had a male figure similar to the national average, but the female average was below the national outturn. The following graph reveals life expectancy changes in the authority by three-year time periods from 1991-93 onwards. The graph emphasises the relatively close correlations between the Chorley and national averages. 

Graph showing life expectancy at birth for males and females in Chorley from 1991 to 1993 onwards. In 2017 to 2019 the age was 78.9 for males and 82.4 for females

The Chorley Health Profile, published by Public Health England, is largely similar to the England average, except for in particular excess winter deaths and to a lesser extent infant mortality, which are a lot worse.

The 2015 health behaviours summary report (PDF 446 KB) and lifestyle survey findings (PDF 899 KB) for Chorley provide further details on lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, drinking, substance use, physical activity, nutrition, excess weight and wellbeing.

In July 2022 Integrated Care Boards replaced the much smaller Clinical Commissioning Groups as clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area, including the majority of the hospital and community NHS services. Together with their associated Integrated Care Partnerships, which includes representatives from the upper tier local authorities responsible for social care and public health, they form Integrated Care Systems (ICS). The single ICS covering the whole of the Lancashire-14 area is the Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS. That web page has a link to a glossary of the terms used and there is a further explanation on a Kings Fund web page

A major local facility on the outskirts of the town is the Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.

The Trauma and Injury Intelligence Group (TIIG) was established to develop an injury surveillance system covering the North West. The Lancashire results include reports for Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.

The local government association has produced 'housing, health and wellbeing profiles' for each local authority across the country. The figures go down to the ward level, and the Chorley profile has results from the census, the index of multiple deprivation and other data sources.

Public Health England has produced Cardiovascular disease profiles for each of the former clinical commissioning groups in England, in this case NHS Chorley and South Ribble CCG. There are separate reports for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

7. Older People

The State Pension caseload in Chorley district is now above 23,000.  

It has been well documented over recent years that people are living longer and that the older age-groups will record some dramatic increases over future years, with associated financial implications and demand for health and social care services. By 2043, the population projections estimate that Chorley will have 35,223 people aged 65 or over. As mentioned already in the People and Communities section, the first results of the Census 2021 show that the 65+ population increased by 34.7% from 2011.

Attendance Allowance provides financial help to people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled. The caseload in Chorley at around 2,670 in August 2023, in comparison to other authorities, does not appear to be excessive.

Life expectancy as mentioned earlier is increasing but there is no guarantee that the extra years of life will necessarily equate to extra years of healthy life expectancy. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that "extra" years of life expectancy should necessarily lead to additional years with ill health or disability. More suitable community services to enable independent living and more effective practice of preventive lifestyles and medicine has the potential to lengthen disability-free life expectancy, particularly in the case of the prevention and treatment of non-fatal but disabling diseases.

The Lancashire Care Homes Association is an organisation that represents care providers across the broader Lancashire area. The website lists a large number of care and nursing homes, along with domiciliary care agencies in the area. The details are listed by major urban localities across the county. 

Page updated 9 May 2024