The rural/urban definition and local authority classification were developed following the 2001 Census to produce a rural/urban view from government statistics.

Where data are below local authority level the rural/urban definition must be used to produce rural and urban totals.

Where local authority level data are the lowest available then the local authority classification should be used.

Users are encouraged to read the 'Rural and urban statistics guidance notes' in Downloads for further information on how to use the rural/urban definition and local authority classification.

Note: the rural/urban definition covers England and Wales, while the local authority classification covers England only.

For information on the classification of Welsh local authorities, and urban and rural classifications in Scotland and Northern Ireland please see External links.

Rural/urban definition (England and Wales)

The rural/urban definition was introduced in 2004 and defines the rurality of very small 2001 Census based geographies.

Four settlement types are identified and assigned to either a 'sparse' or 'less sparse' regional setting to give 8 classes of output areas.

The rural/urban definition also applies to super output areas and wards, but with a reduced number of settlement types.

For further information and product downloads please see the rural/urban definition.

Rural/urban local authority (LA) classification (England)

The local authority classification was introduced in 2005 in order to differentiate between rural and urban for those statistics that are only available at local authority level.

It provides 6 classifications.

Significant local government reorganisation in April 2009 meant that a change to the local authority classification methodology was required.

Additional classifications using the revised methodology have been created for a range of higher level geographies.