The Rural-Urban Definition was introduced in 2004 as a joint project between the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC – formerly the Countryside Agency), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and the Welsh Assembly. It was delivered by the Rural Evidence Research Centre at Birkbeck College (RERC).
Areas forming settlements with populations of over 10,000 are urban, as defined by ONS urban area boundaries based upon land use. The remainder are defined as rural town and fringe, village or hamlet and dispersed using detailed postcode data. These (rural) settlement types are defined using population density at different scales. Once identified these are used to characterize census units (such as Output Areas and wards). Rural town and fringe areas tend to be relatively densely populated over an extended area, whereas village and hamlet areas generally have lower population densities and smaller settled areas.
For information on current and completed rural evidence projects commissioned by Defra click here.