Preston district

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

  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


Preston City Council is an authority in Central Lancashire that covers 142 square kilometres and has 16 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. The number of people per km² is more than twice the England and Wales average. 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

 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 Preston Central Neighbourhood Centre, and the Moor NookPreston East, Preston West, Ribbleton and Stoneygate Children and Family Wellbeing Services.

There are 69 schools in Preston, of these 53 are primary and 10 secondary. A full list of schools in Lancashire is available. Ofsted inspection reports and the GOV.UK web pages on schools performance for Preston and Wyre and North Preston parliamentary constituencies are useful sources of local information.

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 average score was 49.6 in Preston district for 2021/22, which was above the average for the Lancashire County Council area of 47.6.  

The Department for Education achievement and attainment tables have more information on achievement at other levels. 

Preston College is said to be one of the largest colleges in England and has two campuses in the town. Cardinal Newman is a catholic sixth form college situated on a campus just a few minutes walk from Preston town centre.

Based in the heart of Preston, the University of Central Lancashire has a staff of 3,000 and attracts more than 32,000 full and part-time students. It is one of the largest universities in the UK, and over a relatively short period of time has become a serious player in higher education, having made a virtue of widening access.

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 are.

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 Preston, 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 a reasonable rate of growth since 2001 and has matched the county rate of growth from 2011. The mid-2022 population estimate for the authority was 151,582. One of the first Census outputs made available is an interactive tool that compares the 2021 results with 2011 for local authorities.

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 Preston shows that live-births have consistently exceeded deaths over the long-term, and that the differential has grown over the years. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic most districts, had more deaths than births in 2020, but Preston was an exception. The number of deaths in each month of 2021 and 2022 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 Preston from 1981 onwards. In 2021 there were 1,796 live births and 1,428 deaths

The ethnic mix (2021 census) was similar to some other authorities in Lancashire. It is predominantly white. The largest minority ethnic groups are Indian and Pakistani.

It is estimated that between 2018 and 2043 the population of Preston will increase by 5.1%, in contrast to the 7.2% increase expected for the Lancashire-14 area. Results are available for changes in the projected number of households between 2018 and 2043, and reveal an expected increase of 8.0% in Preston (England = 16.2%).

The median house price to earnings ratio in the authority is relatively modest. 

Preston has around 65,800 dwellings, and 82% are owner occupied or private rented. In comparison to other areas, it has a high proportion of its dwelling stock in the registered social landlord sector. Almost half of its housing stock is in lowest category 'A' Council tax band, possibly due to the high number of terraced houses within the city. The authority recorded almost 4,000 net additional dwellings in total over the 2016/17 to 2020/21 year periods.

In total, 14.9% of households in the authority were in fuel poverty in 2020. 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 Preston was the 46th most deprived area out of 317 districts and unitary authorities in England, when measured 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 four of Preston's wards fit into the 'Challenged Asian Terraces' group and those in another three wards the 'Suburban Achievers' group. The groups which are dominant in two wards are Farming Communities', 'Migration and Churn' and 'Semi-Detached Suburbia'.

  1. Economic Development

The rate of growth in employee numbers in Preston was a little over the national average in the decade to 2008.  Between 2009 and 2017, the employment number declined by a substantial 5.5%. The authority has a very high reliance on public-sector employment which has been under pressure over recent years. Preston is however strategically located at the centre of the county and manages to maintain a high jobs-density rate. The 2011 census results reveal how employment patterns push the workday population figure for Preston to a much higher figure than the usual resident population. It also shows how a large number of well-qualified people (Education level 4) commute to Preston for work. The 2011 census commuter flow results reveal the very large number of people who live in South Ribble and come to Preston to work.

In Preston 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 employee jobs. Preston 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. The employment sector articles highlight the fact that employment numbers in the human health and social work, public administration, defence and compulsory social security, education and wholesale and retail sectors are high. 

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 graph of long-term employment trends in Preston reveals an interesting pattern of changes over the years.  

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

In 2023, there were 5,695 active enterprises in Preston. This was the largest number out of the 14 Lancashire authorities. Over five thousand of these had fewer than 10 employees, 540 had between 10 and 49 employees and twenty five employ more than 250.

The former docks area has seen major developments whilst significant numbers of people have moved back in to the city centre to live in new apartments. The city centre has a number of important retail centres whilst to the north is the popular Deepdale Shopping Park. Other new retail parks include Fulwood Central, located on the north east edge of the city, which opened in 2019 and Fulwood Retail Park, located a little way further west, which opened in 2020.

In addition to the county council's major presence in the centre of Preston, public sector employment in the authority is supplemented by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service HQ in Fulwood. The previously mentioned university is a major source of employment, as is Royal Preston hospital.   

The most recent companies in Preston to win a Queen's Award for Enterprise are Recycling Lives Ltd (2010, 2014, 2018, 2019) and Pigott Shaft Drilling Ltd and GSD (Corporate) Ltd (2008).

Eckersley is a firm of chartered surveyors and property consultants that details on its website a large range of commercial sites that are available in the authority. Roundhouse Properties also highlights a number of sites in Preston and other parts of Central Lancashire. Cotton Court represents a good example of a former mill site in Preston that has found a new business role.

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 Preston.

The Central Lancashire New Town Development Corporation was very active during the 1970s and 1980s in developing sites in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble districts. The remaining parcels of un-developed land bought by the corporation eventually became the responsibility of the Homes and Communities Agency. These land assets have now been used to underpin the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, that looks to generate thousands of new jobs and lead to the construction of a very substantial number of new homes. 

Business improvement districts (BIDs) are specified areas within which businesses pay an additional tax/levy in order to fund projects within the district's boundary. The Preston BID area covers the central urban area of city.  

In December 2019 it was announced that training and support will be given by the High Streets Task Force to a pilot  project to improve Friargate, part of Preston Town Centre, with up to £25 million from the Future High Streets Fund.

Average earnings in Preston were noticeably higher in 2019 when measured by place of work in comparison to the low earnings figure by place of residence. The authority is an attractive location for a number of people who commute to better paid employment opportunities. 

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 modest result for Preston that is close to the Lancashire-12 average. 

The authority has a large number of employment and support allowance claimants. The housing benefit article includes details of the number of recipients and the impact of the spare room subsidy withdrawal in the authority. 

  1. Community Safety

The recorded crime article reveals that the crime rate in Preston is noticeably above the average for the Lancashire-14. 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 are significantly worse than the national average for half of the alcohol indicators, according to the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England).

in 2021, there were 107 people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Preston, the highest of all 12 Lancashire districts.   

Preston has one of the four prisons in Lancashire.

  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 authority has an issue regarding relatively poor air quality in the highly urbanised central core area. Parts of Ashton and Plungington wards have air pollution concentrations high enough to score over 1 on the Air Quality indicator, an element of the 2019 Indices of Deprivation. Part of this area, the former ward of Tulketh, is the location of the highest scores for this indicator (1.09) in the county. Elsewhere in the district the motorway network contributes 24.3% of the total emissions of 1,007 tonnes of NOx.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website has the latest air pollution details across the whole of the UK. The interactive monitoring network map reveals a large number of sites across the country that include a station in Preston. Each monitoring site contains a link to allow users to view the last hour's data. The current levels web page allows comparisons to be made between the constantly refreshed figures for the three Lancashire sites, and the results for all the other monitoring sites across the country.

Preston is strategically well located, but for many people the commute to work is relatively short. The 2011 census indicated that 32,398 or just over 50% of Preston's working residents travel less than five kilometres to work.    

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. One major road development, part of the City Deal, is the construction of the Preston Western Distributor, which will connect to the M55 motorway from the western side of the Preston urban area. This is due to be opened in 2023. 

Railway station usage figures confirm that Preston is a major station on the west coast mainline. 

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

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. Preston has a very small proportion of land designated as green belt

Total carbon dioxide emissions in Preston are not excessive in comparison to the UK average when measured in terms of tonnage per resident.

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 have made the traditional form of Landfill disposal much more expensive. The household waste reuse, recycling and composting rate in Preston was low at 32.3% while residual waste per household was high at 568.1 kg and there were 3,142 fly-tipping incidents in Preston during 2021/22.

  1. Health and Wellbeing

Figures for life expectancy at birth at birth for Preston males and females are noticeably below the national averages. The following graph reveals life expectancy changes in the authority, and for England, by three-year time periods from 1991-93 onwards. 

Graph showing life expectancy at birth for males and females in Preston from 1991 to 1993 onwards. In 2017 to 2019 the age was 77.5 for males and 80.9 for females    

The Preston Health Profile, published by Public Health England, reveals that the health of people in the area is generally worse when compared with the England average, notably on suicide and physical activity rates.

The 2015 health behaviours summary report (PDF 451 KB) and lifestyle survey findings (PDF 848 KB) for Preston 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 is the Royal Preston Hospital whilst the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust website lists a number of other locations in the authority.

The Trauma and Injury Intelligence Group (TIIG) was established to develop an injury surveillance system covering the North West. The Lancashire results include a report for Royal Preston 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 Preston 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 Greater Preston CCG. There are separate reports for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

  1. Older People

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 Preston is projected to increase to 27,085.

Attendance Allowance provides financial help to people aged 65 or over who are physically or mentally disabled. There were around 2,780 claimants in May 2022. 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 24 January 2024