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Rural/Urban Definition (England and Wales)

The Rural/Urban Definition was introduced in 2004 as a joint project between a number of Government Departments and was delivered by the Rural Evidence Research Centre at Birkbeck College (RERC).

Output Areas (OAs)

The Definition adopts a settlement-based approach, comprising four settlement types, of which three are rural:

  • Urban (population over 10,000)

  • Town and Fringe

  • Village

  • Hamlet and Isolated Dwellings

The settlement types are assigned to either a 'sparse' or 'less sparse' regional setting to give eight classes:

  • Urban (Sparse)

  • Town and Fringe (Sparse)

  • Village (Sparse)

  • Hamlet and Isolated Dwellings (Sparse)

  • Urban (Less Sparse)

  • Town and Fringe (Less Sparse)

  • Village (Less Sparse)

  • Hamlet and Isolated Dwellings (Less Sparse)

Super Output Areas (SOAs) and wards

For SOAs and wards, two of the rural settlement types used at OA level are merged to give three settlement types:

  • Urban (population over 10,000)

  • Town and Fringe

  • Village, Hamlet and Isolated Dwellings

Again, these are assigned to either a 'sparse' or 'less sparse' regional setting to give six classes:

  • Urban (Sparse)

  • Town and Fringe (Sparse)

  • Village, Hamlet and Isolated Dwellings (Sparse)

  • Urban (Less Sparse)

  • Town and Fringe (Less Sparse)

  • Village, Hamlet and Isolated Dwellings (Less Sparse)

Product Details

The Rural/Urban Definition is available for England and Wales for the following geographies:

  • Output Area (OA)

  • Lower Super Output Area (LSOA)

  • Middle Super Output Area (MSOA)

  • Census Area Statistics (CAS) ward

  • 2003 Statistical ward

For more information on the geographies see the Beginner's Guide to UK Geography.

Files (CSV format), metadata and guidance (PDF format) can be downloaded free of charge.

In addition, an Introductory Guide and Methodology Report are available from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.