Chapter 2 Spatial Portrait of Newark & Sherwood

Newark & Sherwood District

2.1       The District of Newark and Sherwood, at over 65,000 ha, is the largest in Nottinghamshire and is situated in the northern part of the East Midlands Region.

2.2       Adjoining the District to the west are the Nottingham and Mansfield conurbations; whilst Lincoln lies to the north-east and Grantham to the south-east.

2.3       Newark & Sherwood has a population of approximately 112,600 118,600 (Office for National Statistics, 2007 2015) and since 1991 has seen significant growth (9.21% 15.37%) a trend which is likely to continue with above national trend projected growth. Mirroring the national picture, the proportion of the District's population that is of retirement age, or that reside in a single person household, are significant and likely to grow further. The District has a relatively low percentage of its population originating outside of the United Kingdom, however there is a long standing and diverse Gypsy and Traveller community.

2.4       The settlement pattern of the District is dispersed, given its large rural nature, and ranges from market towns and large villages to smaller villages and hamlets. The main towns of Newark, Southwell and Ollerton & Boughton act as a focus for their own communities and those in the wider area, whilst the larger villages function in a similar role for their immediate rural areas. Outside of this however, services are limited and some higher level and specialist facilities are only found in larger urban areas adjoining the District. Public transport services are limited outside of the main centres and routes, and as a result accessibility to employment and services is more difficult in rural areas.

2.5   Average house price within the District, which in 2007 2017 stood at £150,924 £162,833, (HM Land Registry) is in line with regional averages but below national levels. However there is wide variation across the District between the Southwell area and parts of Newark and the former mining communities in the north-west. Recent price rises have restricted younger households from entering the local housing market resulting in a significant affordable housing need that the 2009 Housing Needs Market and Affordability Study 2014 Housing Market and Needs Assessment indicates to be 558 152 dwellings per annum. 

2.6       As part of the Government’s response to the shortage of housing across the country, Newark and Sherwood has been identified as a Growth Point, whereby Local Authorities have agreed higher growth targets in partnership with Government. The District’s excellent communication links, potential for regeneration and need for substantial affordable housing and infrastructure improvements, were all factors that contributed to the identification of the District as a New Growth Point. The East Midlands Regional Plan (March 2009), confirmed the District’s Growth Point Status and identified Newark as a Sub-Regional Centre and the principal location for growth.

2.6       The District’s economy in 2003 2015 supported 27,427 46,000 part and full-time jobs and has been characterised by recent structural shifts from manufacturing to service sectors and by a low skills and wage economy where household income is low. The majority of employment is focused in Newark and the Western areas of the District with both having important employment sites. Unemployment at a District level, according to 2008 2011 census data, is relatively low, below the national average standing at 1.6% 6% .  However there is significant variation across the District with some Wards in Newark seeing 3% as high as 9% and in Clipstone 3.6%. 6.9%. The District is witness to out-commuting with a significant proportion of the District’s workforce travelling outside of the District for work.

2.7       The move to a much wider use of more sustainable forms of energy is critical to the tackling of climate change; however the District, as with most Authorities nationally, is heavily reliant on both natural gas and petroleum based products, with presently only a relatively small amount of the energy consumed per year being derived from renewable sources. In terms of the potential impacts of climate change, the District, with the Trent, Greet and Maun Rivers within the area, is particularly vulnerable to flooding and saw significant District-wide flooding in 2007, and at a number of locations, including Southwell and Lowdham, from extreme rainfall in 2013.

2.8       Key to the District’s distinctiveness is its rich and diverse natural and built heritage, reflected in unspoilt and open countryside and many traditional settlements. The District has an outstanding built heritage with over 1,300 listed buildings and structures and 47 Conservation Areas. Complementing the built environment are a number of sites important in nature conservation and biodiversity terms, including an internationally important Special Area for Conservation at Birklands and Bilhaugh. The River Trent, and its associated floodplain, along with the remnants of the historic Sherwood Forest are the two most dominant landscape features within the District.

2.9       This distinctive character is integral to the District’s significant tourism appeal, with 47,000 84,700 visitors making a trip to the area in 2007 2015/2016 (STEAM Survey 2007). Significant to the District’s allure is Sherwood Forest, home to England’s most famous outlaw Robin Hood. The importance of the Forest is likely to be further strengthened by the future designation of the Sherwood Forest Regional Park. The District’s historical heritage is also a significant tourism asset especially with regards to Newark and the Minster Town of Southwell. Adding to the historic heritage are numerous recreation attractions across the District including the well established Center Parcs Holiday Village close to Edwinstowe.

2.10     In general terms the quality of life within the District (assessed against crime, employment, education, environmental, health, housing and accessibility indicators) is good. Indeed in 2016 the ONS ranked the District as the happiest place to live in England. The best overall ratings are found in Southwell and villages within the Nottingham Fringe. Those areas with the lowest assessments of quality of life tend to be within Newark and the former mining settlements of the West where crime, education and health indicators appear to be those most affecting quality of life.