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Video Summary: Characteristics of Built-Up Areas

Released: 28 June 2013

Slide 1 – Front Page

This is a short video looking at Built-Up Areas in England and Wales.

Slide 2 – What is a built-up area?

A built-up area is one that can be described as:

• Irreversibly urban in character
• Being characteristic of settlements including villages, towns and cities
• Having an area of at least 20 hectares or 200,000 square metres

Areas with less than 200 metres between them are joined to form a single built-up area.

Slide 3 – Greater London

This map shows the extent of the political and administrative area known as Greater London.

In contrast, the Greater London Built-Up Area consists of built-up areas with less than 200 metres between them. Consequently, places as far away from the centre of London as Hemel Hempstead, Bracknell and Guildford are included in this built-up area.

Slide 4 – Location and Population of Built-Up Areas

There were a total of 5,493 built-up areas with usual residents in the 2011 Census. More than 53 million usual residents, or 95% of the population of England and Wales, lived in built-up areas.

Built-up areas can be grouped into five categories. Firstly, areas with fewer than 10,000 usual residents are described as Minor built-up areas. There were 4,999 such areas in 2011, accounting for 7.6 million usual residents.

A further 424 areas with between 10,000 and 99,999 usual residents are described as Small built-up areas. They accounted for 11.8 million usual residents. Areas with between 100,000 and 499,999 usual residents are described as Medium built-up areas. There were 59 such areas with a total of 12.3 million usual residents in 2011.

There are seven areas with between 500,000 and 999,999 usual residents. These are described as Large built-up areas and accounted for 5 million usual residents. Finally, there are four Major built-up areas, each with more than a million usual residents. In total, 16.6 million usual residents lived in these areas.

Slide 5 – Age Structure in Built-Up Areas

This graph shows the age structure in built up areas, dividing the population between those aged 45 and over, and those aged below 45.

At 54%, non built-up areas had a larger proportion of usual residents aged 45 and over compared to built-up areas in the 2011 Census.

As the size of the built-up area increased, the proportion of usual residents aged 45 and over decreased, with only 36% of the usual residents in the Major built-up areas falling into this age category.

Slide 6 – Country of Birth

This graph shows the six categories of built up area in the 2011 census by whether the usual residents were born inside or outside the UK.

75% of usual residents in the Major built-up areas were born in the United Kingdom. This is a considerably lower proportion compared to the other categories of built-up areas and the non built-up areas.

However, at 95%, the minor built-up areas had a slightly higher proportion of usual residents born in the united kingdom compared to the non built-up areas.

Slide 7 – Occupation

This graph shows the occupation of usual residents by whether they lived in built up or non-built up areas.

At 16%, non built-up areas had a larger proportion of managers, directors and senior officials, compared to built-up areas. This reflects the higher earnings of such individuals enabling them to live outside of built-up areas.

Non built-up areas, at 17%, had a relatively large proportion of skilled trade workers. This is as a result of a large proportion of workers employed in jobs relating to agriculture.
Slide 8 – Housing Tenure

This graph shows the tenure of households with at least one usual resident by built up and non-built up areas. In non built-up areas, 43% were owned outright. This compares to only 25% of such households in major built-up areas.
Small built-up areas, at 35% had the largest proportion of households owned with a mortgage or loan. At 30%, the major built-up areas had the smallest proportion of households in this tenure.

Shared ownership, at 1%, was most common in major built-up areas and, at 0.5%, least common in non built-up areas. Similarly, social rented properties were most common in major built-up areas at 22%, and least common in non built-up areas at 7%.

Finally, social rented properties were most common in major built-up areas at 22%; they were least common in minor built-up areas at 13%.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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