Pendle district

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

  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


Pendle is an authority in northern East Lancashire that covers 169 square kilometres and the number of people per km² is similar to the North West average. It has 12 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

The county council has overseen the development of children's centres in the authority. For young children and parents the county council's Children and Family Wellbeing Service has a search facility for local centres. The six in the district are the Barnoldswick Young People's Centre and the Bradley, Brierfield, ColneGisburn Road and Whitefield Children and Family Wellbeing Services.

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. The 2021/22 average score was just 42.6 in Pendle district, which was markedly below the average for the Lancashire County Council area of 47.6. At the Key Stage 1 level, the four sets of results for pupils achieving the expected standards in reading, writing, mathematics and science were much lower than the Lancashire-12 averages, with only Hyndburn lower. The Department for Education achievement and attainment tables have more information on achievement at other levels. 

There are 50 schools in Pendle, of which 37 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.

Nelson and Colne College has sites at Scotland Road in Nelson and Barrowford Road in Colne. It has a sixth form college and also provides courses for adults. It has held Beacon Status since 2006. 

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.

Only a relatively small number of families in Pendle have an income level that led to them opting out of receiving child benefit. There were also the greatest number of children in low income families for any Lancashire-12 authority in the 2022/23 financial year with 10,930.

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 Pendle, 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 overall population has seen strong growth since 2005 in comparison to the increases at the county, regional and national levels. The 2022 mid-year population estimate for the authority was 96,110. One of the first Census outputs made available was an interactive tool that compared the 2021 results with 2011 for local authorities. Using this we can see that the population aged under 15 increased by 12.3% between Censuses.

The total fertility rate can be used as an estimate of the fertility growth factor in the population. The rate in Pendle of 1.91 in 2021, was the highest in the Lancashire-14 area, and well above the England average of 1.55. 

The ethnic mix is similar to other authorities in East Lancashire. It is predominantly white. The largest minority ethnic group is Pakistani.

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 Pendle shows a long-term trend of live-births exceeding deaths. The differential has been most noticeable between 2003 and 2017. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic most districts had more deaths than births in 2020, but Pendle was an exception. The number of deaths in each month of 2021, 2022 and 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 Pendle from 1981 onwards. In 2022 there were 1,117 live births and 927 deaths

It is estimated that between 2018 and 2043 the population of Pendle will increase by 4.1%, a lot lower than the 7.2% population rise predicted for the Lancashire-14 area. Likewise the 11.1% projected number of households in the borough between 2018 and 2043 is below the Lancashire-14 predicted change of 12.3%. 

Pendle is a district that has similar problems to other East Lancashire authorities. The large amount of old terraced property subdues average house prices and contributes to high rates of unfit housing. Pendle has around 41,000 dwellings, 88.6% are owner occupied or private rented. Along with other East Lancashire authorities, Pendle has a very high proportion of its housing stock in the lowest category 'A' council tax band. At 60.9% this is the highest figure in Lancashire. The authority also has a high percentage of vacant dwellings.

The median house price to earnings ratio in the authority is one of the lowest among the 14 Lancashire authorities.  

A total of 16.5% of households were in fuel poverty in 2020 which was the 2nd highest rate in Lancashire, and the 37th highest rate in England. 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 Pendle was the 36th most deprived area out of 317 districts and unitary authorities in England, when measured by the rank of average LSOA rank. In total, 31.6% of the lower super output areas in the authority were among the 10% most deprived in the country. 

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 three of Pendle's wards mostly fit into the 'Semi-Detached Suburbia' group and those in another three wards the 'Urban Professionals and Families' group. Two belong to the 'Challenged Asian Terraces' group, another two 'Rural Tenants'.

  1. Economic Development

In Pendle as in most places, the manufacturing sector has shed jobs over the years whilst the service sector has grown as a source of employee jobs. However there still continues to be a bias towards a larger proportion of employees in the manufacturing sector, and in particular the aerospace manufacturing sub-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 Pendle graph reveals that the employment total was at its highest in 1929.

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

In contrast to the national and county trends employee numbers in Pendle were almost static in the decade to 2008 as the local economy faced tough economic challenges. Between 2009 and 2017, employment in the authority rose by nearly 10%. Pendle has a very high proportion of private-sector jobs in comparison to the county and national averages. 

The 2011 census results reveal the strong commuter flows over 4,600 in each direction, between Pendle and Burnley. 

Assisted areas are those places where regional aid can be offered to undertakings, typically businesses, under European Union state aid rules. From 2014 to 2020 Pendle had 13 wards with assisted area status. Following the departure of the UK from the European Union, these rules no longer apply, but a Subsidy control bill is currently going through Parliament.

At the end of the M65, and with good road links in to north Manchester and Yorkshire, the business location of the authority has improved dramatically over a generation. Lomeshaye and White Walls industrial estates are the major business sites. The Heritage Trust North West is actively involved in projects in the authority that preserve the area's heritage, including the Lomeshaye and Higherfold Mill sites that provide workspace units. Riverside Business Park is a development of high quality office accommodation.

Barnfield Construction is an important property developer that is based in the authority and its portfolio of available sites normally contains developments in the district and nearby authorities. Of particular note is the Brierfield Mill site that offers tremendous potential.

The website for Petty's Surveyors of Burnley contains details of a large number of available commercial sites in Pendle and across much of East Lancashire.

Pendle Council has recently bought the historic Brierfield Mill site with grant funding from the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency. This huge complex of buildings on a seven acre site will now become Pendle’s flagship economic regeneration project.  

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 Pendle district.

In 2023, there were 3,145 active enterprises in Pendle district. 2,795 of these had under ten employees and a further 290 less than fifty. Only around 10 enterprises employed more than 250.

The most recent companies in Pendle to win a Queen's Award for Enterprise are ACDC LED Ltd in 2012, Carradice of Nelson Limited in 2014 and Whyte & Ivory Ltd, suppliers of fabric and curtain materials, in 2019.

Average earnings results in Pendle for 2019 were £432.70 per week by place of residence and £425.50 by place of work. These were both 7th highest in the Lancashire-14 area. 

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 low result for Pendle that is below the Lancashire-12 average. 

There are a relatively high number of employment and support allowance claimants. The housing benefit article identifies the number of recipients and the impact of the spare room subsidy withdrawal in the authority. In comparison to the national average, there is a high percentage of the working age population that is reliant on welfare benefits.

The town centre of Nelson is destined to benefit from the Future High Streets Fund, launched in 2018.

  1. Community Safety

The recorded crime article reveals that the crime rate for Pendle is 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 an above average number of hospital stays due to alcohol according to the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England).

There were 45 people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Pendle in 2021.

  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 air quality in the urbanised central core area of the authority is of concern but poorer levels are found in a selection of other Lancashire authorities. A cluster of LSOAs in Pendle, mainly within Nelson/Colne appear to have seen some deterioration in air quality and this is highlighted by results of the 2019 Indices of Deprivation, which rank Whitefield ward the most deprived in England on the 'living environment' sub-domain. This is largely influenced by the Air Quality indicator, for which the whole of Whitefield ward, and also Walverden ward, score over 1. These are the only wards in Lancashire where this is the case.

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

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.

The authority has three railway stations, Nelson, Colne and Brierfield. Nelson Interchange provides good connections between local bus and train services, and rail passenger numbers have seen significant growth between 2002 and 2014.

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. Pendle has an average proportion of land designated as green belt (12.1%) that is similar to the figure for England as a whole.

Part of the authority is classified within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Beauty

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.

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

The household waste reuse, recycling and composting rate in Pendle (31%) was the lowest in the Lancashire-12 area and well below the national rate. The same article also highlights the number of fly-tipping incidents recorded in the authority which was just over 5,000 in 2021/22, making it the highest in the Lancashire-14 area, although lower than in 2020/21.

Pendle has relatively low total carbon dioxide emissions. The rate of carbon dioxide tonnes per resident is low when compared with the county and national averages.

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 Pendle district.

  1. Health and Wellbeing

Figures for life expectancy at birth reveal that Pendle district has male and female averages that were below the national figures. The following graph reveals life expectancy changes in the authority, and for England, by three-year time periods from 1991-93 onwards. 

Life expectancy at birth , Pendle graph

The Pendle Health Profile, published by Public Health England, reveals that the health of people in the area is generally worse than the England average.

The 2015 health behaviours summary report (PDF 447 KB) and lifestyle survey findings (PDF 957 KB) for Pendle 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

Hospital services are provided by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. There are also various health centres and clinics.

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 Pendle 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 East Lancashire CCG. There are separate reports for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

  1. Older People

The number of State Pension claimants in the district is around 16,600. Pension Credit is for pensioners at the lower end of the income scale and the caseload in the authority is around 2,500.

Attendance Allowance provides financial help to people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled. There were around 2,400 claimants in Pendle in August 2023.

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 aged 65 or over in Pendle is projected to be 21,458. 

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 to by major urban localities across the county.  

Page updated 9 May 2024