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Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2013-2014

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2. Overview

The Scottish Government (SG) Urban/Rural Classification provides a consistent way of defining urban and rural areas across Scotland. The classification is based upon two main criteria: (i) population as defined by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), and (ii) accessibility based on drive time analysis to differentiate between accessible and remote areas in Scotland. The classification is available in two forms, a 6-fold classification which distinguishes between urban, rural, and remote areas through six categories, and an 8-fold classification which further distinguishes between remote and very remote regions.

The population criteria is derived from the Settlements dataset produced by NRS, which defines areas of contiguous high population density postcodes that make up a Settlement. Using the population thresholds of 125,000, 10,000 and 3,000 people, Settlements can be grouped into the following categories:

(1) Large Urban Areas - populations of 125,000 or more
(2) Other Urban Areas - populations of 10,000 to 124,999
(3) Small Towns - populations of 3,000 to 9,999
(4) Rural Areas - populations less than 3,000

Accessibility is measured in terms of drive times to an urban area. This was done by calculating a 30 minute drive time from the population weighted centroid of Settlements with a population of 10,000 or more (i.e. Large and Other Urban Areas). For the 8-fold Urban/Rural Classification, an additional 60 minute drive time was also calculated. The drive time analysis was performed using specialist GIS software (ESRI ArcGIS Network Analyst extension). Results of the analysis allowed for areas to be classified in terms of accessibility by the following categories:

(1) Accessible - Areas within a 30 minute drive time of a Settlement with a population of 10,000 or more.
(2) Remote - Areas that are more than a 30 minute drive time (6-fold classification), or areas that have a drive time between 30 and 60 minutes (8-fold classification) from a Settlement with a population of 10,000 or more.
(3) Very Remote - Areas that are more than a 60 minute drive time from a Settlement with a population of 10,000 or more (8-fold classification only).

Combining both the population and accessibility measures, a Scotland-wide Urban/Rural Classification is defined. Categories of the classification are shown in Tables 2.1 and 2.2 below. The Scottish Government Urban/Rural Classification is normally updated on a biennial basis, with the boundaries represented in this particular dataset reflective of the years 2013 to 2014.

Table 2.1: Scottish Government Urban/Rural Classification, 6-fold

Class Class Name Description
1 Large Urban Areas Settlements of 125,000 people and over.
2 Other Urban Areas Settlements of 10,000 to 124,999 people.
3 Accessible Small Towns Settlements of 3,000 to 9,999 people, and within a 30 minute drive time of a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
4 Remote Small Towns Settlements of 3,000 to 9,999 people, and with a drive time of over 30 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
5 Accessible Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and within a 30 minute drive time of a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
6 Remote Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and with a drive time of over 30 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.

Table 2.2: Scottish Government Urban/Rural Classification, 8-fold

Class Class Name Description
1 Large Urban Areas Settlements of 125,000 people and over.
2 Other Urban Areas Settlements of 10,000 to 124,999 people.
3 Accessible Small Towns Settlements of 3,000 to 9,999 people, and within a 30 minute drive time of a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
4 Remote Small Towns Settlements of 3,000 to 9,999 people, and with a drive time of over 30 minutes but less than or equal to 60 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
5 Very Remote Small Towns Settlements of 3,000 to 9,999 people, and with a drive time of over 60 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
6 Accessible Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and within a drive time of 30 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
7 Remote Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and with a drive time of over 30 minutes but less than or equal to 60 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.
8 Very Remote Rural Areas Areas with a population of less than 3,000 people, and with a drive time of over 60 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.

Table 2.3: Scottish Government Urban/Rural Classification look up table

UR 8-fold Class UR 6-fold Class UR 3-fold Class UR 2-fold Class
1 1 1 1
2 2 1 1
3 3 1 1
4 4 1 1
5 4 1 1
6 5 2 2
7 6 3 2
8 6 3 2

Map 2.1: Scottish Government 6-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2013-2014.

Map 2.1: Scottish Government 6-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2013-2014

Map 2.2: Scottish Government 8-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2013-2014.

Map 2.2: Scottish Government 8-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2013-2014