List of urban areas in the United Kingdom
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:
"..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..."
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
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.
|Area (km²)||Density (People/km²)||Major subdivisions||Metropolitan Area||Notable changes between 2001 and 2011 censuses |
|1||Greater London Built-up area||9,787,426||1,737.9||5,630||London Boroughs, Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Woking, Harlow, St Albans||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.|
|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, 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.|
|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|
|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', 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, Broad Blunsdon, Blunsdon St Andrew||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.|
|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, Colne, 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|
|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
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.
|Area (km²)||Density (People/km²)||Major subdivisions||Metropolitan Area|
|1||Greater Glasgow||976,970||267.46||3,653||Glasgow, Paisley, Clydebank||Glasgow|
|3||Aberdeen||209,460||65.07||3,219||Aberdeen, Cove Bay, Dyce||Aberdeen|
|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|
|6||Coatbridge and Airdrie||90,330||23.50||3,844||Airdrie, Bargeddie, Coatbridge||Glasgow|
|8||East Kilbride||74,740||24.29||3,077||East Kilbride||Glasgow|
|9||Dunfermline||71,820||27.90||2,574||Dunfermline, Rosyth, Inverkeithing||Dunfermline|
|10||Greenock||69,450||20.52||3,384||Greenock, Gourock, Port Glasgow||Glasgow|
|12||Livingston||60,030||27.09||2,216||Livingston, East Calder, Mid Calder||Edinburgh|
List of most populous urban areas in Northern Ireland
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.
|Area (km²)||Density (People/km²)||Major subdivisions||Metropolitan Area|
|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|
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.
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:
- West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire, which are all heavily built up but not entirely devoid of countryside (both are metropolitan counties).
- The area consisting of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and parts of Cheshire (mainly Halton (borough) and Warrington), which is heavily built up and considered by some to be a conurbation.
- The London Commuter Belt consisting of Greater London and large densely populated parts of the home counties, which is heavily built up and is considered one of the world's largest cities.
- South Wales - the Espon Urban Functions report refers to a Cardiff and South Wales valleys metropolitan area, also including Newport, Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly. (see page 121)
- The Nottingham-Derby Metropolitan area, which mainly consists of three large conurbations, the Nottingham Urban Area, the Derby Urban Area and the Mansfield Urban Area.
- List of metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom
- City region (United Kingdom)
- List of cities in the United Kingdom
References and Notes
- Office for National Statistics, 2011 Built-up Areas - Methodology and Guidance, p.3
- ONS definition of urban areas[dead link]
- "2011 Census - Built-up areas". ONS. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
- 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.
- The urban sub-area that the ONS has called 'Milton Keynes' is actually just the north of Milton Keynes proper, excluding Bletchley (which is part of MK, though the ONS has listed it separately).
- 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
- Mid-2012 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland General Register Office for Scotland
- "NISRA - Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency". Nisranew.nisra.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- "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.
- Martin Wainwright (2006-10-23). "Seeking peace and quiet? Here's where to find it | UK news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-15.