Rural & urban definitions
Defining what we mean by a ‘rural area’ is a complicated and sometimes contentious issue.
Prior to 2004, a number of different organisations used conflicting classifications. Following a review of existing definitions in 2001/2, five Government organisations: the Countryside Agency, Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, the Office for National Statistics and the National Assembly of Wales agreed to co-sponsor a project to create a new definition which could be widely supported and used across Government and beyond.
A consortium consisting of the South East Regional Research Laboratory (SERRL) at Birkbeck College, the School of Town and Regional Planning at Sheffield University and Geowise Ltd of Edinburgh, was charged with producing the new definition.
The Rural and Urban Area Classification 2004 project was completed in July 2004 with the release of the new definitions at Output Area (OA), Lower Layer Super OA, Middle Layer Super OA, CAS Ward and Statistical Ward levels.
Our publication Defining Rural England introduces the definition, describes how it was created, and the identifies some of the benefits of using it.
In 2005 Defra completed a separate Rural Definition and Local Authority Classification project to classify Local Authority Districts/Unitary Authorities and Primary Care Trusts.
State of the Rural Evidence is a review of the adoption and use of these definitions.