Urban Rural Classification 2016

Scotland's Chief Statistician publishes the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2016.

Scotland's Chief Statistician today published the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2016. This version updates the previous version (2013-2014) with the latest available settlement population figures and drive time estimates. The definitions of urban and rural areas underlying the classification are unchanged.

Due to changes in postcode population densities Barrhead (East Renfrewshire) is now classed as a settlement in its own right in the 2016 Classification. Barrhead was part of the Greater Glasgow Settlement for the 2013‑2014 Classification. As a result Barrhead is now classed as an ‘other urban’ settlement.

Changes to settlement sizes have resulted in some changes in classification to some settlements:

  • The populations of Dalgety Bay (Fife), Forres (Moray) Kilsyth (North Lanarkshire) and Prestonpans (East Lothian) have risen above the 10,000 population threshold and are now classed as ‘other urban’ as opposed to ‘small towns’.
  • Six settlements previously had population estimates below the 3,000 population threshold but have risen above the 3,000 threshold for the 2016 Classification and are now classed as ‘small town’ as opposed to a ‘rural area’. The settlements are Blackburn (Aberdeenshire), Conon Bridge and Maryburgh (Highland), Garelochhead, (Argyll and Bute), Laurencekirk (Aberdeenshire), Leuchars and Guardbridge (Fife) and Winchburgh (West Lothian).



The full publication can be accessed at: http://www.gov.scot/ISBN/9781788516204

The publication includes background information, methodology and guidance on the use of the classification, and also the geographic information to allow analysts to use the classification in their research. The classification uses the Government’s definition of rurality which defines settlements of 3,000 people or less to be rural. It also classifies areas as remote based on a drive time of 30 minutes or more from settlements of at least 10,000 people.

There were no noticeable drive time boundary changes due to any new roads.

The Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification was last produced based on 2012 Settlements, and named the 2013-2014 Classification. This updated version is reflective of 2016 Settlements, and has been named the 2016 Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification. The change in name format to a single year – which refers to the date of the mid-year estimates on which the population statistics for the Settlements are based – was made in order to make it clearer in the title of the classification the date of the statistics used.

Further information on the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification can be accessed at: http://www.gov.scot/urbanrural

Further information on Settlement data can be accessed at: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/special-area-population-estimates/settlements-and-localities

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About


Media enquiries


Back to top