List of urban areas in the United Kingdom

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List of urban areas in the United Kingdom is a list of the most populous urban areas as at the 2011 census, as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The detailed methodology of the process used by ONS in 2011 is set out in 2011 Built-up Areas - Methodology and Guidance, published in June 2013. In reporting the results of the 2011 UK census, ONS use the term "built-up area" rather than the term "urban area" used for previous censuses. However, it states that the criteria used to define "built-up area" are the same as those used previously, as follows:[1]

"..the definition follows a ‘bricks and mortar’ approach, with areas defined as built-up land with a minimum area of 20 hectares (200,000 m2), while settlements within 200 metres of each other are linked. Built-up area sub-divisions are also identified to provide greater detail in the data, especially in the larger conurbations."

In reporting the 2001 census, ONS gave a clearer definition of the term "built-up" as follows:

"This comprises permanent structures and the land on which they are situated, including land enclosed by or closely associated with such structures; transportation corridors such as roads, railways and canals which have built up land on one or both sides, or which link built-up sites which are less than 200 metres apart; transportation features such as airports and operational airfields, railway yards, motorway service areas and car parks; mine buildings, excluding mineral workings and quarries; and any area completely surrounded by builtup sites. Areas such as playing fields and golf courses are excluded unless completely surrounded by builtup sites..."[2]

A conurbation is formed when cities and towns expand sufficiently that their urban areas join up with each other. This process has happened many times in the United Kingdom. In many cases, there are differences of interpretation as to the limits of a conurbation - where it begins and ends. For the purposes of consistency, the list on this page uses the Office for National Statistics definition of built-up areas (previously defined as urban areas).

List of most populous built-up areas in England and Wales[edit]

The list below shows the most populous Built-up areas in England and Wales as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing all those with a population in excess of 100,000 at the 2011 census.

Rank Built-up area[3] Population

(2011 Census)[3]

Area (km²)[3] Density (People/km²)[3] Major subdivisions[3] Metropolitan Area[4] Notable changes between 2001 and 2011 censuses [5]
1 Greater London Built-up area 9,787,426 1,737.9 5,630 London Boroughs, Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Woking, Harlow, St Albans, Bracknell London The addition of Guildford, Harlow, Bracknell and St Albans
2 Greater Manchester Built-up area 2,553,379 630.3 4,051 Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Trafford, Tameside Manchester The addition of Golborne, Glossop and Newton-le-Willows
3 West Midlands Built-up area 2,440,986 598.9 4,076 Birmingham, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Dudley, Walsall, Solihull Birmingham
4 West Yorkshire Built-up area 1,777,934 487.8 3,645 Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Keighley, Halifax Leeds-Bradford The addition of Halifax
5 Liverpool Built-up area 864,122 199.6 4,329 Liverpool, Bootle, Litherland, Crosby, Prescot, St. Helens, Ashton-in-Makerfield Liverpool The addition of Ashton-in-Makerfield
6 South Hampshire Built-up area 855,569 192.0 4,455 Southampton, Portsmouth, Eastleigh, Gosport, Fareham, Havant, Horndean Southampton-Portsmouth Portsmouth Urban Area and Southampton Urban Area combined into one.

The addition of Hedge End, Locks Heath, Bursledon and Whiteley. Stubbington and Lee-on-the-Solent are no longer part of the built-up area.

7 Tyneside Built-up area 774,891 180.5 4,292 Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, South Shields, Tynemouth, Wallsend, Whitley Bay, Jarrow Newcastle-Sunderland Washington, Chester-Le-Street, Hetton-le-Hole and Houghton-le-Spring are no longer part of the built-up area.
8 Nottingham Built-up area 729,977 176.4 4,139 Nottingham, Beeston, Carlton, West Bridgford, Ilkeston, Hucknall Nottingham-Derby
9 Sheffield Built-up area 685,368 167.5 4,092 Sheffield, Rotherham, Rawmarsh Sheffield
10 Bristol Built-up area 617,280 144.4 4,274 Bristol, Filton, Pill, Frampton Cotterell, Kingswood, Warmley, Mangotsfield, Winterbourne Bristol
11 Leicester Built-up area 508,916 109.4 4,653 Leicester, Syston, Whetstone, Birstall, Narborough, Enderby Leicester Ratby no longer part of the built-up area.

Addition of Narborough and Enderby

12 Brighton and Hove Built-up area 474,485 89.4 5,304 Brighton and Hove, Worthing, Littlehampton, Shoreham-by-Sea Brighton Rottingdean, Saltdean and Findon are no longer part of the built-up area.
13 Bournemouth/Poole Built-up area 466,266 131.0 3,559 Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Ferndown, New Milton, Wimborne Minster Bournemouth/Poole Ferndown and Wimborne Minster now part of the built-up area.
14 Cardiff Built-up area 447,287 102.3 4,370 Cardiff, Caerphilly, Penarth, Pontypridd Cardiff-Newport Caerphilly and Pontypridd now part of the built-up area.
15 Teesside Built-up area 376,633 108.2 3,482 Middlesbrough, Stockton-On-Tees, Billingham, Redcar Middlesbrough Eston & Southbank now part of Middlesbrough sub-division, no longer counted as separate sub-division
16 Stoke-on-Trent Built-up area 372,775 103.9 3,588 Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Kidsgrove Stoke-on-Trent
17 Coventry Built-up area 359,262 81.3 4,420 Coventry, Bedworth Birmingham
18 Sunderland Built-up area 335,415 83.5 4,018 Sunderland, Washington, Chester-Le-Street, Hetton-le-Hole, Houghton-le-Spring Newcastle-Sunderland Addition of Washington, Chester-Le-Street, Hetton-le-Hole and Houghton-le-Spring
19 Birkenhead Built-up area 325,264 88.2 3,687 Birkenhead, Wallasey, Ellesmere Port, Bebington Liverpool
20 Reading Built-up area 318,014 83.7 3,800 Reading, Wokingham, Woodley, Crowthorne London Bracknell no longer part of the built-up area.
21 Kingston upon Hull Built-up area 314,018 82.6 3,802 Kingston upon Hull, Cottingham, Hessle Hull
22 Preston Built-up area 313,322 82.4 3,802 Preston, Bamber Bridge, Chorley, Fulwood, Leyland Preston The addition of Longton and Adlington to the built-up area.
23 Newport Built-up area 306,844 84.2 3,643 Newport, Pontypool, Cwmbran, Blackwood, Risca, Ystrad Mynach Cardiff-Newport Pontypool, Cwmbran and Blackwood added to the built-up area.
24 Swansea Built-up area 300,352 87.6 3,431 Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot, Ystradgynlais, Pontardawe Swansea/Neath/Port Talbot Ystradgynlais now part of the built-up area.
25 Southend-on-Sea Built-up area 295,310 71.8 4,111 Southend-on-Sea, Hullbridge, Rayleigh, Rochford London Hullbridge now part of the built-up area.
26 Derby Built-up area 270,468 64.1 4,219 Derby, Borrowash, Duffield Nottingham-Derby
27 Plymouth Built-up area 260,203 59.7 4,356 Plymouth, Plymstock Plymouth
28 Luton Built-up area 258,018 50.7 5,088 Luton, Dunstable, Houghton Regis London
29 Farnborough/Aldershot Built-up area 252,397 78.5 3,217 Farnborough, Aldershot, Camberley, Farnham, Frimley, Sandhurst, Yateley London
30 Medway Towns Built-up area 243,931 52.2 4,677 Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester London
31 Blackpool Built-up area 239,409 61.3 3,908 Blackpool, Lytham St Annes, Poulton-le-Fylde, Thornton, Cleveleys Blackpool Fleetwood no longer forms part of the built-up area.
32 Milton Keynes Built-up area 229,941 62.5 3,678 'Milton Keynes',[6] Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Woburn Sands Milton Keynes The addition of Woburn Sands.
33 Barnsley/Dearne Valley Built-up area 223,281 59.7 3,739 Barnsley, Wath upon Dearne, Wombwell, Hoyland Sheffield
34 Northampton Built-up area 215,963 57.9 3,731 Northampton, Collingtree Northampton
35 Norwich Built-up area 213,166 61.9 3,444 Norwich, Taverham, Costessey, Cringleford, Hellesdon Norwich
36 Swindon Built-up area 185,609 47.1 3,945 Swindon, Haydon Wick, Stratton St. Margaret, Broad Blunsdon, Blunsdon St Andrew, Wroughton Swindon
37 Crawley Built-up area 180,508 58.1 3,107 Crawley, Horley, East Grinstead, Copthorne, Crawley Down London The addition of East Grinstead, Copthorne and Crawley Down.

Reigate and Redhill no longer part of the built-up area.

38 Ipswich Built-up area 178,835 49.1 3,639 Ipswich, Kesgrave, Woodbridge Ipswich The addition of Woodbridge.
39 Wigan Built-up area 175,405 43.8 4,009 Wigan, Skelmersdale, Standish, Ince-in-Makerfield Liverpool
40 Mansfield Built-up area 171,958 48.4 3,556 Mansfield, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Mansfield Woodhouse Nottingham-Derby
41 Oxford Built-up area 171,380 37.4 4,585 Oxford, Kennington, Wheatley Oxford The addition of Kennington and Wheatley.
42 Warrington Built-up area 165,456 44.9 3,686 Warrington Liverpool
43 Slough Built-up area 163,777 34.1 4,797 Slough, Stoke Poges, Poyle London
44 Peterborough Built-up area 163,379 44.2 3,693 Peterborough, Farcet Peterborough
45 Cambridge Built-up area 158,434 42.1 3,760 Cambridge, Fen Ditton, Girton, Histon Cambridge Addition of Histon and Impington and Fen Ditton
46 Doncaster Built-up area 158,141 43.5 3,634 Doncaster, Bentley, Armthorpe, Sprotbrough Sheffield Addition of Bessacarr
47 York Built-up area 153,717 34.0 4,518 York, Earswick York
48 Gloucester Built-up area 150,053 40.4 3,718 Gloucester, Innsworth Gloucester-Cheltenham
49 Burnley Built-up area 149,422 35.7 4,183 Burnley, Padiham, Brierfield Colne, Barrowford Nelson Blackburn-Burnley
50 Telford Built-up area 147,980 47.7 3,103 Telford, Broseley Telford
51 Blackburn Built-up area 146,521 35.6 4,115 Blackburn, Darwen Blackburn-Burnley
52 Basildon Built-up area 144,859 37.1 3,902 Basildon, Wickford, Ramsden Heath, North Benfleet London The addition of Wickford to the urban area.
53 Grimsby Built-up area 134,160 35.3 3,804 Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Waltham Grimsby New Waltham is no longer part of the Built-up area.
54 Hastings Built-up area 133,422 33.2 4,019 Hastings, Bexhill Hastings
55 High Wycombe Built-up area 133,204 39.2 3,398 High Wycombe, Cookham, Hughenden Valley London
56 Thanet Built-up area 125,370 27.9 4,495 Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs Thanet
57 Accrington/Rossendale Built-up area 125,059 30.0 4,168 Accrington, Rawtenstall, Bacup, Great Harwood, Haslingden, Oswaldtwistle Blackburn-Burnley Accrington Urban Area and Rossendale Urban Area combined.
58 Burton-upon-Trent Built-up area 122,199 35.0 3,487 Burton-upon-Trent, Swadlincote Burton-upon-Trent The addition of Swadlincote, Stapenhill and Winshill[7]
59 Colchester Built-up area 121,859 32.7 3,732 Colchester, Marks Tey Colchester
60 Eastbourne Built-up area 118,219 25.1 4,705 Eastbourne, Polegate Brighton
61 Exeter Built-up area 117,763 28.5 4,133 Exeter, Topsham Exeter
62 Cheltenham Built-up area 116,447 28.9 4,034 Cheltenham, Gloucester-Cheltenham
63 Paignton/Torquay Built-up area 115,410 31.5 3,667 Paignton, Torquay, Marldon Torbay
64 Lincoln Built-up area 114,879 32.7 3,518 Lincoln, North Hykeham Lincoln
65 Chesterfield Built-up area 113,057 34.6 3,263 Chesterfield, Staveley, Wingerworth, Holymoorside Sheffield Addition of Wingerworth to the Built-up area.
66 Chelmsford Built-up area 111,511 26.2 4,259 Chelmsford, Little Waltham London
67 Basingstoke Built-up area 107,642 29.4 3,662 Basingstoke London
68 Maidstone Built-up area 107,627 25.4 4,229 Maidstone London
69 Bedford Built-up area 106,940 24.8 4,309 Bedford, Kempston Bedford
70 Worcester Built-up area 101,659 24.7 4,121 Worcester, Norton Worcester

List of most populous urban areas in Scotland[edit]

The list below shows the most populous Built-up areas in Scotland as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing all those with a population in excess of 50,000 at the 2011 census.

Rank Urban Area[8] Population

(2001 Census)

Area (km²) Density (People/km²) Major subdivisions Metropolitan Area[4]
1 Greater Glasgow 976,970 267.46 3,653 Glasgow, Paisley, Clydebank Glasgow
2 Edinburgh 488,610 122.97 3,973 Edinburgh, Musselburgh Edinburgh
3 Aberdeen 209,460 65.07 3,219 Aberdeen, Cove Bay, Dyce Aberdeen
4 Dundee 157,690 49.70 3,173 Dundee Dundee
5 Motherwell and Bellshill 124,530 44.48 2,800 Motherwell, Bellshill, Wishaw Glasgow
6 Falkirk 100,480 43.39 2,316 Falkirk, Grangemouth, Carron, Polmont, Stenhousemuir Falkirk
7 Coatbridge and Airdrie 90,330 23.50 3,844 Airdrie, Bargeddie, Coatbridge Glasgow
8 Hamilton 82,310 27.19 3,028 Blantyre, Hamilton Glasgow
9 East Kilbride 74,740 24.29 3,077 East Kilbride Glasgow
10 Dunfermline 71,820 27.90 2,574 Dunfermline, Rosyth, Inverkeithing Dunfermline
11 Greenock 69,450 20.52 3,384 Greenock, Gourock, Port Glasgow Glasgow
12 Ayr 62,870 26.41 2,280 Ayr, Prestwick Ayr
13 Livingston 60,030 27.09 2,216 Livingston, East Calder, Mid Calder Edinburgh
14 Cumbernauld 51,610 21.06 2,451 Cumbernauld Glasgow
15 Kilmarnock 51,150 16.64 3,075 Kilmarnock Kilmarnock

List of most populous urban areas in Northern Ireland[edit]

The list below shows the most populous Built-up areas in Northern Ireland as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing all those with a population in excess of 50,000 at the 2001 census.

Rank Urban Area[9] Population

(2001 Census)

Area (km²) Density (People/km²) Major subdivisions Metropolitan Area[4]
1 Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area 579,554 161.67 2,990.2 Belfast, Castlereagh, Newtownabbey, Lisburn, Bangor Belfast
2 Derry Urban Area 90,736 37.18 2,440 Derry, Culmore, Strathfoyle, Newbuildings, Creggan Londonderry
3 Craigavon 57,685 37.70 1,530 Craigavon, Lurgan, Portadown, Bleary Craigavon

Commentary[edit]

There is a spectrum that can be drawn between the conurbations that have a clear 'head' (such as Bristol and Leicester) to those that do not, known as multi-centred conurbations (such as Bournemouth/Poole and Teesside), via ones that are more borderline (West Midlands). In the case of the West Midlands, for example, the largest city, Birmingham, expanded massively and is now considered to include areas that were formerly independent towns, such as Sutton Coldfield. However, here it stopped, with the Black Country and Wolverhampton retaining strong identities.[citation needed]

There are also various large areas in which the amount of development is substantial, although not contiguous. Heavily built up areas of this type include:

See also[edit]

References and Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Office for National Statistics, 2011 Built-up Areas - Methodology and Guidance, p.3
  2. ^ ONS definition of urban areas[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e "2011 Census - Built-up areas". ONS. Retrieved 1 July 2013.  (needs a more direct cite)
  4. ^ a b c d e http://www.espon.eu/export/sites/default/Documents/Projects/ESPON2006Projects/StudiesScientificSupportProjects/UrbanFunctions/fr-1.4.3_April2007-final.pdf#page=122
  5. ^ Some of the names of subdivisions and the areas they represent have changed between the two censuses. So it may look as though an area has become part of a built-up area between the two censuses but it may have already been part of the 2001 urban area but was included under a different subdivision.
  6. ^ The urban sub-area that the ONS has called 'Milton Keynes' is actually just the northern 80% (approx) of Milton Keynes proper. The ONS has separated out Bletchley (which is about 20% of MK) for reasons that are not explained.
  7. ^ Stapenhill and Winshill were treated as a separate urban area in the 2001 census but in the 2011 census they were treated as part of the Burton-upon-Trent subdivision
  8. ^ Mid-2012 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland General Register Office for Scotland
  9. ^ "NISRA - Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency". Nisranew.nisra.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  10. ^ "Shrinking cities and growing regions – emerging trends of new rural-urban relationships in the UK and Germany (Manchester eScholar - The University of Manchester)". Escholar.manchester.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  11. ^ Martin Wainwright (2006-10-23). "Seeking peace and quiet? Here's where to find it | UK news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-15.