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Dover District Summary

This summary gives a brief overview of the Dover District, covering Place, People and Prosperity. 

More detailed information about the Dover District can be found in our 'District Profile: Understanding our communities' section, which is divided into themes including Population, Economy, Education, Environment, Housing, Health and Wellbeing, Deprivation and Community Safety. 


  • The Dover District covers an area of 31,484 hectares (123 square miles), with a coastline of around 20 miles, and is one of twelve districts that make up the county of Kent.
  • The District contains two urban areas, a market town and a large rural area made up of dozens of villages and hamlets. Home to the internationally famous White Cliffs, it is the UK’s Gateway to Europe, within easy access of London and the continent.
  • Over a fifth (22%) of the District is designated as part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Of this area, 3% is designated as Heritage Coast, centred on the white cliffs either side of Dover.
  • With a resident population of 118,100, the Dover District has the fourth-smallest local authority population in Kent - equivalent to 7.5% of the Kent population. The population density of the District is 3.7 persons per hectare.
  • The ward with the largest area is Little Stour and Ashstone, covering 6,572 hectares, which represents 20.9% of the total area of the District. It is least densely populated ward with 1.1 people per hectare.
  • The ward with the smallest area is Tower Hamlets, covering 89 hectares, which represents 0.3% of the total area of the District. It is the most densely populated ward with 74.99 people per hectare.
  • The ward with the largest population is Middles Deal and Sholden with 8,670 people - representing 7.4% of the total resident population of the District. The ward with the smallest population is Ringwould with 2,040 people - representing 1.7% of the total resident population of the District.
  • The Dover Urban Area covers an area of 4,830 hectares and has a population of 46.320 (population density 9.59).  The Deal Urban Area covers an area of 31,270 hectares and has a population of 31,270 (population density 18.37). The Sandwich Rural Settlement covers an area of 3,519 hectares and has a population of 7,190 (population density 2.06). 
  • There are 54,514 residential properties in the District, the majority of which are owner- occupied or privately rented (87.2%). Over a quarter of properties were built before 19006. Long-term vacant homes (6+ months) equate to just under 1% of the estimated dwelling stock. Approximately 2.3% of residential properties in the District are second homes.
  • House prices are historically lower in the Dover district than the county and regional averages. The average house price is £272,432, compared to Kent £339,660 and the South East £380,302.  Since 1999, the average house price in the District has increased by +258.3%. The District also has the third-lowest average monthly private rental market rent in Kent.
  • The ‘average’ council tax band in England is Council Tax Band D, and 13.4% of homes in the Dover District fall into this band. The majority of homes in the district fall into Band B (31.5%) and Band C (26.3%). Only 70 properties in the district are in the highest Tax Band H.
  • The Dover District is ranked 113th (out of 317) local authorities in the English Indices of Deprivation 2019 (IoD2019) and is the 4th (out of 12) deprived area in Kent (using the ‘Rank of Average Score’ summary measure). The urban areas of Dover have the highest levels of deprivation in the District. Five (out of the 67) Lower-layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in the District are in the top 10% most deprived areas in England.


  • The resident population of the District is 118,100, with just over half being female (50.6%), and 49.4% male.
  • Over the past 15 years, the population of the District has grown slower than the county and national averages, growing by 10.6% between 2003 and 2018. The population is forecast to increase by 10.7% between 2018 and 2038, which would increase the population size to 129,400. This growth is slower than the average population growth for Kent (17.0%).
  • The average age of the population is 43.7 years, which is higher than the county (41.2 years) and national (40.3 years) averages
  • The Dover District has a lower proportion of young people aged under-15 years (17.5%) and of people aged 16 to 64 years (58.9%) than the south-east and national averages. Over a fifth, (23.5%) of the District’s population is of retirement age (65+), compared to 18.5% for England.
  • The Dover District has an ageing population. Between 2018 and 2038, the number of 65 plus-year-olds in the District is forecast to increase by +53.7% (to 41,600 people). This contrasts with an expected decrease in the 0-15 years age group (-3.5% or -700 young people) and 16-64 years age group (-1.7% or -1,200 working-age people).
  • The population of the Dover District is predominantly white, with 96.7% of all residents are of white ethnic origin; this is higher than the averages for Kent (93.7%), South East (90.7%) and England (85.4%). The District has the lowest percentage of residents from a BME group in Kent (3.3%). The largest single BME group in the District is Asian / Asian British representing 1.8% of the total population.
  • 64.1% of the District’s residents describe themselves as Christian, while the largest non- Christian religious group is Hindu (0.6%). 26% of the population in the District does not have a religion .
  • Self-reported health in the Dover District is worse than the England average, with 78.8% of residents describing their health as either ‘very good’ or ‘good ‘and 6.3% as either 'bad' or 'very bad'. This compares with national averages of 81.7% for ‘very good’ or ‘good‘ and 5.3% for either 'bad' or 'very bad'. 20.8% of the District’s population has an illness or condition which limits their day to day activities in some way; this compares with 17.6% nationally.
  • Life expectancy at birth for males (79.2 years) and females (82.5 years) in the Dover District is lower than the national averages (79.6 years for males and 83.1 years for females).  Life expectancy is 7.6 years lower for men and 3.1 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Dover than in the least deprived areas.
  • The number of Dover District residents who are claiming disability benefits is 11,111 (9.5%) this is higher than Kent (7.7%), South East region (6.4%) and national figures (7.9%).
  • 58.9% (69,600 people) of the population in the District are of working age (aged 16 to 64 years), which is below the county, regional and national averages. 80.2% of the resident working-age population is economically active, which means that they are either in work or actively looking for a job. The remaining 19.8% (13,100 people) of the working-age population are economically inactive. These people are not in employment, nor are they looking to work. This includes those who are retired, looking after home and family, students or are permanently sick or unable to work.
  • 73% of the working-age population in the Dover District are in employment: 61.4% employees and 9.8% self-employed .
  • In 2019, 5.0% of working-age residents were unemployed, compared to 3.4% in 2018.
  • COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the number of claimants in the Dover District. As at May 2020, 4,890 people (7.1%) in the Dover District were unemployed, which is above the county (6.4%) and the national averages (6.4%). This represents an increase of +96.4% (2,400 people) since May 2019.
  • As at May 2020, youth unemployment (aged 18-24 years) in the District, at 12.5%, is also above the county average (9.5%) and the national average (8.7%).
  • As at May 2020, the Dover Urban areas (Castle 12.1%; Tower Hamlets 11.8%; St. Radigunds 11.7%; Town & Pier 9.9%; Maxton, Elms Vale and Priory 8.8%; Buckland 8.2%) have the highest rates of unemployment. 
  • A third of the workforce (33.3%) in the Dover District is qualified to at least NVQ level 4. This is lower than the averages for Kent (36.6%), South East (43.4%) and nationally (40.3%). The percentage of those with no qualifications in the District, at 6.4%, is lower than the averages for Kent (7.8%) and nationally (7.7%) but higher than the South East (5.8%).


  • There are 3,480 enterprises based in the Dover District, an increase of 24.3% since  2010.
  • Most enterprises in the District are small businesses, as is the case nationally and regionally. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), employing less than 250 people, account for 99.9% of firms in the District. Micro businesses (from 0-4 employees) account for 76.0% of total enterprises in the District. Only 0.1% of businesses have more than 250 employees.
  • In the Dover District, the construction industry group (16.8%) and professional, scientific and technical industry group (14.9%) account for the most significant proportion of businesses.
  • The ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles’ sector and ‘Human Health and Social Work Activities’ sector employ the highest proportion of persons aged 16-64 in the District (both 13.6%). This is followed by Transportation and Storage sector (12.1%).
  • Nearly half of all enterprises in the Dover District (47.8%) have a turnover size between £100,000 - £249,000.
  • The latest 1-year survival rate for businesses in the Dover District is 89.2%, which is slightly lower than average survival rates in Kent (89.7%) and the South East (90.1%) but broadly in line with the average for England (89.1%).
  • GVA per head in the District, estimated to be £19,755, is the sixth lowest in Kent (out of eleven) and the 17th lowest in the South East .
  • The average weekly pay by residence (those living in the Dover District), for full-time workers, is £596.60. This is lower than the South East average of £613.50 but higher than the national average of £586.50. Male full-time workers (average £631.50 pw) earn considerably more than female full-time workers (average £535.80 pw).


  • Dover District Summary (PDF): This document includes sources for the information used in the Dover District Summary. 

Last updated: July 2020.