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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 - population greater than 125,000

(2) Other Urban Areas - populations between 10,000 and 125,000

(3) Small Towns - populations between 3,000 and 10,000

(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, ProTerritory 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 2011 to 2012.

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

Class

Class Name

Description

1

Large Urban Areas

Settlements of over 125,000 people.

2

Other Urban Areas

Settlements of 10,000 to 125,000 people.

3

Accessible Small Towns

Settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 people, and within a 30 minute drive time of a Settlement of 10,000 or more.

4

Remote Small Towns

Settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 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 over 125,000 people.

2

Other Urban Areas

Settlements of 10,000 to 125,000 people.

3

Accessible Small Towns

Settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 people, and within a 30 minute drive time of a Settlement of 10,000 or more.

4

Remote Small Towns

Settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 people, and with a drive time between 30 and 60 minutes to a Settlement of 10,000 or more.

5

Very Remote Small Towns

Settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 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 between 30 and 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.

Map 2.1: Scottish Government 6-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2011-2012

Map 2.1: Scottish Government 6-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2011-2012

 Map 2.2: Scottish Government 8-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2011-2012Map 2.2: Scottish Government 8-fold Urban/Rural Classification, 2011-2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

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