CHRISTCHURCH has a higher percentage of retired residents than any other area in the country, it has been revealed.

Almost 30 per cent in the town are over 65 compared with a national average of 16.4 per cent.

And East Dorset is ranked sixth, with 27.9 per cent of its population claiming their pension.

Prudential analysed figures from the latest census, which showed the south west to be the most popular region for retirees in the UK.

The most unpopular places to retire are in London, with just six per cent of the population of Tower Hamlets over the age of 65.

Derek Blake, 81, chairman of the Christchurch Over 50s Forum, said: “I like the area and I like the people. It is a very friendly town and I think that’s what attracts people.

“It is safe, we are near the sea, yet we are only two hours away from London and close to many other cities. It is a lovely place to live.”

Christchurch mayor Cllr John Lofts, inset, said the number of retired people grown when developments were targeted at the elderly in the 1960s and 70s, especially in Highcliffe.

“It started to become the thing to do, picked up on by estate agents and spread by word of mouth,” he said.

He said the town had a lot of active elderly people, who not only did voluntary work but enjoyed hobbies, leading to a thriving arts scene and clubs and societies. People are very active, they get around the place and there’s a lot of mutual aid,” he added.

Mark Sharman, chief executive of Dorset charity Help and Care said: “This area has a beautiful coastline and countryside, a good variety of shops and we are close to the New Forest. It’s a great place to live.”

The charity offers a Gateway helpline with information and advice for retirees, on 0300 111 3303.