Lowestoft in 2022 - How nightlife, tourism, retail and housing will change
- Credit: PA/Google Maps/Mick Howes
The last two years have had a huge impact on various sectors of the economy as the pandemic turned everyone's world upside down.
It has also led to an unexpected upturn for much of the housing market, and a surge in so-called 'staycations'.
Lowestoft is an area that is now bouncing back as various sectors of its economy look towards a brighter 2022.
We talked to some experts in their fields about their predictions for 2022.
Ben Llewellyn, one of the directors at Claremont Pier, which now hosts a club night called The Venue every Saturday night, said Lowestoft will see a resurgence of the nightlife industry in 2022.
"I am 100pc confident we will see a resurgence of people going out," he said.
"We were at first very sceptical about opening The Venue last October.
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"The Covid passports proved to be a bit of a struggle at first, people did not like it and started abusing us but this is law.
"However, this Saturday just gone, on New Year's Eve and at Christmas we saw a great turnout of people.
"We are also completely refurbishing our sports bar in time for the end of the month which we hope will attract more people to the pier.
"I think as long as there are no more variants we will see a return to people out and about."
Many holiday parks around Lowestoft have witnessed a staycation boom since Covid hit.
Azure Sea Holiday Village, in Corton, was one to benefit.
Sales manager Kelly Lowen said: "Many people at our site buy holiday lodges but many are already fully booked up for the year.
"Covid has definitely created a staycation boom for us and other holiday parks.
"People, particularly the elderly, are worried about going abroad.
"Last year, many people were put on waiting lists for holiday slots and it looks like the same will happen this year.
"Because of Covid-19, so many people we find just want a beach location, where they can stay in their bubble and have a bit of privacy away from it all, particularly if families are coming from big cities."
Like many coastal areas in the UK, Lowestoft is experiencing a housing market boom but demand for landlords is on the increase in 2022.
Sam Ellis is lettings manager at William H Brown's Lowestoft branch.
He said: "It is a great time to buy in Lowestoft in 2022 because the housing market is currently very buoyant.
"Properties are selling very quickly but we are currently looking for new landlords to keep up with the current housing demand.
"I think Covid has particularly driven a lot of people to look at and buy coastal properties, particularly because many now work from home.
"This should not put off young people in the area who are looking to get on to the property ladder though.
"In terms of prices, Lowestoft is a great and up and coming area for first time buyers, with prices being lower than villages more in land.
"For 2022, we are looking for more landlords and investment in the town to make it an even more attractive place to live and work."
Peter Ogilvie, head of residential sales at Savills in Ipswich, says that demand is running at more than double normal levels for this time of year.
“The lifestyle opportunities that people have been looking for since the outbreak of the pandemic continue to motivate buyers and in a lot of cases properties are on the market for a very short period of time, with a sale agreed in just a matter of days,” he says.
Such demand has pushed prices up, with 11 local authority wards now reporting average house prices of £500,000 or more. In 2020, there was just one.
“Properties in coastal areas with a good view and close to amenities such as those in Woodbridge, Aldeburgh, Thorpeness, Walberswick and Southwold are incredibly popular, but there has also been a strong move towards more rural country homes in peaceful locations,” said Mr Ogilvie.
The high street
The pandemic has accelerated changes to the UK's high street.
Danny Steel, of Steel & Co believes Lowestoft's high street will evolve, rather than die out but that planners need to be mindful of changes to the town centre.
"We need to accept that the traditional high street is changing, we need to adapt to those changes. We need to embrace the change," he said.
"In my opinion, the continental model is the way forward.
"In Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, and other countries the high street is the centre for service business with little retail.
"Restaurants, bars, cafes, hairdressers, nail bars, doctors, dentists, solicitors, accountants, estate agents, are all to be found in the town centre but also the first and second floors above these business are flats occupied by families.
"The high street becomes a living breathing community and is therefore sustainable.
"Mainstream retail is out of town or online, but specialist retail still flourishes in the town centre. This is the future of our town centre as I see it.
"Planners need to be mindful of the change in our town centres and not block change of use applications for little or no good reason."