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The local area guide to living in Luton
Luton is a large town in the county of Bedfordshire in England. It is part of the wider Luton/Dunstable Urban Area which has a total population of around 258,000 people. Luton lies around 30 miles away from London.
The town is well known for its football club, which plays in League Two (known colloquially as 'the hatters' after the town's traditional industry), as well as its international airport and the Luton Carnival, which is the biggest one-day event of its kind in Europe. Luton used to be a major car manufacturing town from 1905 to 2002, and Vauxhall Motors still maintains its head office in the town.
The area around Luton has been the site of human habitation for around 250,000 years, since before the Ice Age. Around Luton you can find ruins dating back nearly 10,000 years, whilst Waulud's Bank, a henge, dates from around 3000 BC.
The Romans did occupy the area, but the town itself came into being during the time of the Saxons and grew to prominence in the Middle Ages, with St Mary's Church being built in the 12th century. The beautiful ancient church is still in very good condition today.
Luton's famous hat making industry started taking off in the 17th century and came to dominate the town's economy by the 18th before declining in the 20th century. While hat making still happens on a smaller scale, today the economy relies more on the service sector.
Information about the local residents
Luton has a very young mean age of 34.8, four and a half years below the national rate, and a median age of just 32. Only around 13% of the population are of pensionable age and around 25% are under the age of 18. This may explain the relatively low level of home ownership - just 25.1% of households are owner occupied outright, and 35.1% owner occupied with a mortgage. 21.3% of households are privately rented, much higher than the 15.4% rate for the rest of England. 15.7% of houses are designated as social housing, slightly under the national norm.
In terms of social grade, measured by the occupation of the main household earner, Luton also falls a little behind the national average. Only 15.4% of households are classified as AB, which compares to 23% for England. 30.2% are C1, 21.2% are C2 and 33.2% are DE. The rates of education are also a little lower than average. 23.6% of people in Luton have no qualifications at all, while just 22.3% have Level 4 qualifications or higher. For England, those figures are 22.5% and 27.4% respectively.
Unemployment, however, is relatively low. Just 3.9% of people claim Jobseeker's Allowance, and 14.4% of people are on benefits of any kind.
Luton has a high immigrant population. Just 69.1% of residents are originally from the UK (that figure is 86.2% for England). 2.3% come from the Republic of Ireland, 6.8% from other EU countries and 21.8% from outside the EU.
Sources: 2011 Census & Department for Work and Pensions
Luton has nearly 100 educational establishments - 7 nurseries, 56 primary schools, 13 secondary schools and four further educational institutes.
Luton Sixth Form College is one of those and has received special recognition, having been awarded Learning and Skills Beacon Status. Barnfield College has also achieved this.
Luton is also the site of a large campus of the University of Bedfordshire, as well as a smaller campus just outside the town.
Luton's location, just 30 miles from the capital city, means it is served by some excellent transport links.
The motorway network offers quick travel by road, with the M1 of particular importance. Luton also has three railway stations on the Midland Main Line. Journeys to London are quick and very regular, and it's also possible to get direct train service to all nearby major towns.
Luton also has London Luton Airport, which is one of the most important airports for the South East and London.
The Mall Luton, which was constructed in the 1960s, is the main shopping centre for the town and has a huge selection of fashionable brands and recognisable high street names.
Also within the shopping centre is a market, which offers fantastic local meat, vegetables and artisan goods.
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