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The local area guide to living in Luton
Encompassed by the beautiful North Chiltern Hills, Luton is a lively town with an impressively rich cultural heritage and some fine historic buildings, such as the Grade II listed Town Hall and St. Mary’s Church, which has been standing for over 850 years. In the 17th and 18th century, the town was known for its hat trade, a small part of which still exists today, but during the 20th century, aircraft and car manufacture rose to prominence and Vauxhall was a major employer until its production facility shut down in 2002.
The town boasts a wide variety of architectural styles, with Victorian influences obvious in areas around to the railway and the town centre. There is also a lot of 1920s and 1930s housing stock in the town, as well as post-war housing estates such as Bushmead, Marsh Farm and Farley Hill.
In recent years Luton has experienced an improved economy and is gaining a reputation as a centre for light industry and retail sectors, with some £27 million being invested to boost retail facilities.
Information about the local residents
At the last census in 2011, Luton had a population of 203,201 people, a 10.2% increase from the 2001 census. The town has a very diverse ethnic mix, with a large population of Asian descent, including Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi, and the town is one of three in the UK that has a white minority.
The town has a wide variety of social grade, with certain wards like Barnfield or Bramingham having higher proportions of professionals and lower levels of unemployment. Luton has the highest proportion of Semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers within the East of England, though this is due to the large amount of manufacturing undertaken in the area.
Luton has been chosen to be part of the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which has been set up to help redevelop educational facilities in the UK.
Luton has a large number of educational institutions and schools, including seven nurseries, 70 primary schools, 13 secondary schools and two special schools. The secondary schools include Lealands High School and Denbigh High School, as well as Barnsfield South and Barnfield West academies.
Luton is also host to a campus of The University of Bedfordshire, with other campuses located at Putteridge Bury and Bedford itself.
The town centre is easily navigable on foot, but there is also an excellent bus service that has many routes in and around Luton. Currently under construction is the Luton Dunstable Busway, which will provide reliable and fast services between Dunstable, Houghton and Luton town centre.
Luton is very near the M1 motorway, which offers excellent connections to London, Leeds and Brighton, and to the rest of the UK motorway network. There are superb railway connections to London, just a 24-minute journey away, and there are speedy rail services to Sheffield, Leeds and beyond, as well as direct services to Brighton and Gatwick.
The nearest airports are Gatwick and London Luton Airport, offering routes to national, European and international destinations. The town is situated only minutes away from the Luton airport, and this proximity gives ease of travel that few places can rival.
Thanks to the impressive ethnic diversity of Luton, the town is a haven for foodies, with delicious international cuisines on offer including Caribbean, Malaysian, Thai, Italian, Indian and Chinese. The town centre is home to a large selection of stores, including national chains and smaller, independent outlets, and the recently refurbished Mall Shopping Centre is home to many recognisable brands and an indoor market. One mile north of the town centre is Bury Park, a commercial area specialising in Asian fashion, food and other goods.
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