Lowestoft is an English North Sea coast town and civil parish in the county of Suffolk. Situated on the edge of The Broads, it is the most easterly UK settlement, and is 38 miles north-east of Ipswich and 22 miles south-east of Norwich. It is the main town in the district of East Suffolk. The port town developed out of the fishing industry and as a seaside resort with wide sandy beaches. Oil and gas exploitation in the southern North Sea added to its development. Lowestoft is now developing as a regional centre of the renewable energy industry. The major employers in the town are the wholesale and retail sector; Service industries, including health, social care and education; manufacturing and tourism.
There are a few small fishing boats operating out of Lowestoft. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), a large fisheries research centre is located in Lowestoft. Other major traditional employers included Eastern Coach Works and engineering and shipbuilding companies clustered around the harbour. These include the Norwich-based engineering company Boulton and Paul. Some shipbuilding and repair still goes on at the harbour.
Major local employers include Birds Eye frozen foods. Oil and gas is still a major industry. The town has made efforts to develop as a centre for renewable energy in the east of England. The non-profit Orbis Energy centre has been set up to draw business in the green-energy sector and features solar thermal heating. Associated British Ports announced that the harbour is to become the operations centre for the 500 MW Greater Gabbard wind farm, which when completed will be the world's largest offshore wind farm. The turbines will be located 15 miles (24 km) off the Suffolk coast and the Outer Harbour will be used to house the necessary operational support facilities. Other developments in the renewable energy sector include a prototype tidal energy generator being produced by local company 4NRG and wave power systems developed by Trident Energy.
Rainbow Saver Anglia Credit Union, a savings and loans co-operative, is based in the town. Hoseasons (now part of Awaze), the self-catering UK Holiday specialist, is also a large employment provider. The town centre is the main shopping area in Waveney district. The retail chain Marks & Spencer has a store. Specialist shopping areas, branded as The Historic High Street and the Triangle Market Place, have been developed on the northern edge of the centre. Several retail parks have appeared, the largest being North Quay Retail Park in Peto Way.
Lowestoft is a traditional seaside resort. The coast has been called the "Sunrise Coast". The town's main beaches are south of the harbour, where two piers, the Claremont and South piers, provide tourist facilities, and the East Point Pavilion the tourist information service. The beach south of the Claremont Pier is a Blue Flag beach. Lifeguard facilities are provided during the summer and water sports take place along the coast. Tourism is a significant aspect of the town's economy.
The town features two major attractions, the first being Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park, situated on the northern edge of the town, while the second is the Africa Alive! wildlife park, situated in the south at Kessingland. The town maintains a holiday park at Pakefield, operated by Pontins, and a small caravan site near its northern beach. The natural attractions of the Broads and the River Waveney on the west edge of the town, also attract visitors and been the site for boat trips and water sports events, with companies such as Hoseasons operating hire boats from Oulton Broad. Near the town centre is Lowestoft Maritime Museum, open from late April to late October, which has exhibits of maritime artefacts, an extensive collection of ship models and medals, marine art, fishing and the fishing industry, activities with the Royal Navy in WWII, and shipwrights' and coopers' tools.
Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone, developed by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, has six redevelopment sites across Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. The bid for the zone involved the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance and focused on developing the energy sector initially using tax incentives, simplified planning regulations and the provision of improved broadband internet services. The sites in Lowestoft are Mobbs Way, Riverside Road and South Lowestoft Industrial Estate. The harbour is a focus of redevelopment proposals for Lowestoft through the Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan. The plan focuses on the redevelopment of brown field sites in and around the harbour area to create jobs, particularly in the renewable energy and retailing sectors.
Lowestoft has a population of over 70,950 people.