July 24 2014 Latest news:
Jon Vale, West Suffolk reporter
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Political leaders have vowed to meet the challenge of soaring population growth in west Suffolk where one district is set to grow faster than many London boroughs.
New statistics predict the population in Forest Heath to surge by almost 15% over the next decade - a slightly faster rate than was previously predicted back in December.
The data suggests Forest Heath’s population will rise from 61,000 in 2012 to 70,000 by 2022, and will have grown further to 80,000 people by 2037.
The region’s MP, Matthew Hancock, and Forest Heath council leader James Waters both recognised a need for investment to meet greater demand on public services, but said the figures had to be treated as good news.
“Forest Heath is one of the fastest growing districts in the country and I am glad that people are recognising what a great place it is to live and bring up their families,” Mr Hancock said.
“What is needed is further investment in infrastructure in Forest Heath and the surrounding areas to ensure growth can be accommodated successfully.
“This marks a major step to improve links in and out West Suffolk. Although we have had some fantastic local developments already, there is still more to be done to harness further growth and improvement.”
The predicted population growth of 14.8% puts Forest Heath just outside the national top 10 of the fastest growing local authorities over the next 10 years, way ahead of the national, regional and county-wide average.
Mr Waters said: “We know that the predicted population boom will present challenges, but it will also present opportunities. We know that our population in Forest Heath will rise - why wouldn’t it? It is a great place to live.
“We are consistently developing new employment opportunities, keeping one eye on the present and the other on the requirements ahead. We are already working with employers, schools and colleges to ensure an even brighter future.
“Yes we will need new houses, roads, schools, doctors surgeries, hospitals and other services – they are hurdles to be overcome as we continue our work to expand and develop new strong communities.”
Neighbouring East Cambridgeshire is the local authority predicted to grow fastest in the country outside London, with a predicted growth of 15.5% over the next 10 years.