Aptly-named Eden is one of Cumbria’s hidden gems. Our picturesque and unspoiled landscapes are amongst the most beautiful and dramatic in the country.
Eden District spans 2,156 square kilometres, and in 2011 the population was 52,564. This makes it the second largest district in England and Wales, as well as the most sparsely populated English district. A high proportion of the population is scattered in small villages through a wide rural area. Alston, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen and Penrith are the four main towns.
Between 2005 and 2015 the estimated population of Eden increased by 900 people (+1.7%), with the greatest percentage increase occurring in the 85+ age group (+54.4%) and the greatest percentage decrease occurring in the 30-44 age group (-26.5%). Average life expectancy in Eden is high, at 79.5 years for a male and 83.3 years for a female – above the national average of 78.3 and 82.3 respectively.
Eden has an older age profile than nationally (23.8% over 65 compared with 17.4% and 29.7% aged under 30 against 37.3% nationally). The area has the lowest population density of any local authority in England. The working age population is 31,300 (59.5% of total population), which is similar to Cumbria (60.5%) but lower than the national rate of 63%.
The 2019 Halifax Quality of Life survey rated Eden in the top 5 places to live in the UK, based on a number of factors including employment, housing, education, crime levels, health and happiness.
Our population is growing but more so amongst older age groups rather than younger people. The falling working age population will increase the tightness of the local labour market and place pressure on public services.
As a very desirable place to live, house prices in Eden are amongst the most expensive in Cumbria, and the private housing market is inaccessible to many local people, with the young disproportionately affected. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that a high proportion of Eden’s housing stock is used as second homes, a figure which is much higher than the national average. Through the Heart of Cumbria Ltd (the Council’s commercial arm, investing in the purchase of affordable homes to rent for families and key workers) proactive planning policies and funding for community housing schemes in rural areas, the Council is seeking to address the area’s diverse housing needs by providing affordable housing for people of a working age and the supported housing required for its ageing population.
Eden District has an exceptionally high quality of both natural and built environment. Approximately one fifth of the District lies within the Lake District National Park and one quarter within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The area encompasses a number of ‘priority’ habitats for wildlife, including wetlands, woodland and field boundaries. The District also has a fine historic built environment in many places, and includes many attractive villages and outstanding examples of vernacular design and fine architecture drawing upon locally sourced materials. Many of these areas include scheduled ancient monuments and areas of recognised archaeological value.
Eden enjoys excellent road transport links running east / west along the A66 trunk road and north / south via the M6 and A6. The West Coast Mainline provides direct rail links to the north and south (including London, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh) and regional railways link from Carlisle to Leeds (via Settle/Carlisle). The planned improvements to the A66 are expected to bring further prosperity to the area.
Eden has an abundance of green space for outdoor activities and the District has excellent leisure and cultural provision which includes 2 leisure centres, 5 outdoor pools, a sports centre and a skate park, 6 libraries, 2 theatres and 2 cinemas. The District is also home to major cultural events including Europe’s largest traditional gathering of Gypsies and Travellers at the annual Appleby Horse Fair, the Kendal Calling music festival at Lowther, the World Marmalade Festival at Dalemain and the Penrith Winter Droving.
Eden District has an exceptionally high quality of both natural and built environment.