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Changes from the previous release of the classification are fairly minimal. The differences between the 2009-2010 and the 2011-2012 classifications normally stem from changes to either Settlement populations or Settlement boundaries. In terms of measuring accessibility, the same method of calculating the 30 and 60 minute drive times was used as in the previous 2009-2010 classification, therefore changes with respect to accessibility are minimal.
The classification of a particular area will change if the Settlement population crosses the 10,000 and 3,000 marks as these are the population thresholds used to distinguish between urban and rural areas. In the 2009-2010 classification, High Valleyfield (Fife) had an estimated population greater than 3,000. This estimate drops below 3,000 for the 2011-2012 classification, and High Valleyfield moves from being classed as a ‘small town’ to a ‘rural area’. This is perhaps due to the fact that the Culross area was included in the High Valleyfield settlement in 2008, but not for the 2010 release of Settlements. Conversely, Innerleithen (Scottish Borders) and Law (South Lanarkshire) previously had population estimates below 3,000, but have risen above the 3,000 mark for the 2011-2012 classification and are now classed as ‘small town’ as opposed to a ‘rural area’.
No Settlement has also crossed the 10,000 population threshold, however, Dalgety Bay (Fife) was previously included in the Dunfermline settlement, but has now become its own settlement with a population over 10,000 for the 2011-2012 classification.
Minor changes in shape and area of a particular Settlement can also have an impact on the classification. For example, previously the Settlement of Dunfermline (Fife) included the areas of North Queensferry, Crossgates, and Dalgety Bay. Dalgety Bay became a settlement with a population of 10,000 plus in it’s own right, and thus did not change classification, but the change in shape of Dunfermline also resulted in a slight shift to the west of the location of the population weighted centroid, meaning a small shift in terms of accessibility. Therefore, the exclusion of North Queensferry and Crossgates from Dunfermline results in the data zones within these areas changing from an ‘other urban areas’ designation to ‘accessible rural’ for the 2011-2012 classification. Similarly, the Hallglen area was formerly included in the Settlement of Falkirk, but is now it’s own settlement and moves from an ‘other urban area’ to an ‘accessible small town’ for the 2011-12 classification.
Drive time boundaries extended in the Moray area such that data zones in the settlement of Buckie were reclassified from ‘remote small town’ to ‘accessible small town’. This is likely due to the new A96 Bypass at Fochabers which opened early this year. Conversely, in the eastern Scottish Borders, the drive time boundary contracted such that data zones in Coldstream were reclassified from ‘accessible rural’ to ‘remote rural’ for the 2011-2012 classification, likely due to road works along the A698.
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