List of urban areas in the United Kingdom

This is a list of the most populous urban areas in the United Kingdom based on the 2011 census, as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).


The methodology used by ONS in 2011 is set out in 2011 Built-up Areas – Methodology and Guidance, published in June 2013. When ONS reported the results of the 2011 UK census, it used the term "built-up area" rather than the term "urban area" as used in previous censuses. ONS states, however, that the criteria used to define "built-up area" have not changed:

the definition follows a ‘bricks and mortar’ approach, with areas defined as built-up land with a minimum area of 20 hectares (200,000 m2), while settlements within 200 metres of each other are linked. Built-up area sub-divisions are also identified to provide greater detail in the data, especially in the larger conurbations.[1]

In reporting the 2001 census, ONS gave a clearer definition of the term "built-up" as follows:

This comprises permanent structures and the land on which they are situated, including land enclosed by or closely associated with such structures; transportation corridors such as roads, railways and canals which have built up land on one or both sides, or which link built-up sites which are less than 200 metres apart; transportation features such as airports and operational airfields, railway yards, motorway service areas and car parks; mine buildings, excluding mineral workings and quarries; and any area completely surrounded by builtup sites. Areas such as playing fields and golf courses are excluded unless completely surrounded by builtup sites...[2]

List of most populous urban areas

The list below shows the most populated urban areas in the United Kingdom as defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), but as readily referenced at The list includes all urban areas with a population in excess of 100,000 at the 2011 census.[3]

#Area[4][note 1]Population
Area (km2)[note 2]Density (People/km2)Primary sub-divisions[note 3]Notable changes from 2001 to 2011[5][note 4]
1Greater London9,787,4261,737.95,630London boroughs, Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Woking, Harlow, St Albans, BracknellGuildford, Harlow, Bracknell and St Albans added.
2Greater Manchester2,553,379630.34,051Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Trafford, TamesideGolborne, Glossop and Newton-le-Willows added.
3West Midlands2,440,986598.94,076Birmingham, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Dudley, Walsall, Solihull
4West Yorkshire1,777,934487.83,645Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Keighley, HalifaxHalifax added
5Greater Glasgow957,620368.53,390Glasgow, Paisley, Clydebank, Rutherglen, Newton Mearns, Bearsden, Cambuslang, Clarkston, Bishopbriggs
6Liverpool864,122199.64,329Liverpool, Bootle, Litherland, Crosby, Prescot, St. Helens, Ashton-in-MakerfieldAshton-in-Makerfield added
7South Hampshire855,569192.04,455Southampton, Portsmouth, Eastleigh, Gosport, Fareham, Havant, HorndeanPortsmouth Urban Area and Southampton Urban Area combined.

Hedge End, Locks Heath, Bursledon and Whiteley added. Stubbington and Lee-on-the-Solent removed.

8Tyneside774,891180.54,292Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, South Shields, Tynemouth, Wallsend, Whitley Bay, JarrowWashington, Chester-Le-Street, Hetton-le-Hole and Houghton-le-Spring removed.
9Nottingham729,977176.44,139Nottingham, Beeston, Carlton, West Bridgford, Ilkeston, Hucknall
10Sheffield685,368167.54,092Sheffield, Rotherham, Rawmarsh
11Bristol617,280144.44,274Bristol, Filton, Pill, Frampton Cotterell, Kingswood, Warmley, Mangotsfield, Winterbourne
12Belfast595,879960620Belfast, Castlereagh, Greenisland, Holywood, Lisburn, Newtownabbey
13Leicester508,916109.44,653Leicester, Wigston, Oadby, Syston, Blaby, Birstall, Narborough, EnderbyRatby removed and Narborough and Enderby added
14Edinburgh482,2701254,172Edinburgh, Musselburgh, Wallyford
15Brighton and Hove474,48589.45,304Brighton and Hove, Worthing, Littlehampton, Shoreham-by-SeaRottingdean, Saltdean and Findon removed.
16Bournemouth/ Poole466,266131.03,559Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Ferndown, New Milton, Wimborne MinsterFerndown and Wimborne Minster added.
17Cardiff447,287102.34,370Cardiff, Caerphilly, Penarth, PontypriddCaerphilly and Pontypridd added.
18Teesside376,633108.23,482Middlesbrough, Stockton-On-Tees, Billingham, RedcarEston & Southbank added to Middlesbrough sub-division, no longer counted as separate sub-division
19Stoke-on-Trent372,775103.93,588Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Kidsgrove
20Coventry359,26281.34,420Coventry, Bedworth
21Sunderland335,41583.54,018Sunderland, Washington, Chester-Le-Street, Hetton-le-Hole, Houghton-le-SpringWashington, Chester-Le-Street, Hetton-le-Hole and Houghton-le-Spring added.
22Birkenhead325,26488.23,687Birkenhead, Wallasey, Ellesmere Port, Bebington
23Reading318,01483.73,800Reading, Wokingham, Woodley, CrowthorneBracknell removed.
24Kingston upon Hull314,01882.63,802Kingston upon Hull, Cottingham, Hessle
25Preston313,32282.43,802Preston, Bamber Bridge, Chorley, Fulwood, LeylandLongton and Adlington added.
26Newport306,84484.23,643Newport, Pontypool, Cwmbran, Blackwood, Risca, Ystrad MynachPontypool, Cwmbran and Blackwood added.
27Swansea300,35287.63,431Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot, Ystradgynlais, PontardaweYstradgynlais added.
28Southend-on-Sea295,31071.84,111Southend-on-Sea, Hullbridge, Rayleigh, RochfordHullbridge added.
29Derby270,46864.14,219Derby, Borrowash, Duffield
31Luton258,01850.75,088Luton, Dunstable, Houghton Regis
32Farnborough/ Aldershot252,39778.53,217Farnborough, Aldershot, Camberley, Farnham, Frimley, Sandhurst, Yateley
33Medway Towns243,93152.24,677Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester
34Blackpool239,40961.33,908Blackpool, Lytham St Annes, Poulton-le-Fylde, Thornton, CleveleysFleetwood removed.
35Milton Keynes229,941[6]62.53,678"Milton Keynes",[note 5] Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Woburn SandsWoburn Sands added.
36Barnsley/ Dearne Valley223,28159.73,739Barnsley, Wath upon Dearne, Wombwell, Hoyland
37Northampton215,96357.93,731Northampton, Collingtree
38Norwich213,16661.93,444Norwich, Taverham, Costessey, Cringleford, Colney, Horsham St Faith, Queens Hills, Thorpe End, Trowse with Newton
40Swindon185,60947.13,945Swindon, Haydon Wick, Stratton St. Margaret, Broad Blunsdon, Blunsdon St Andrew, Wroughton
41Crawley180,50858.13,107Crawley, Horley, East Grinstead, Copthorne, Crawley DownEast Grinstead, Copthorne added and Crawley Down.

Reigate and Redhill removed.

42Ipswich178,83549.13,639Ipswich, Kesgrave, WoodbridgeWoodbridge added
43Wigan175,40543.84,009Wigan, Skelmersdale, Standish, Ince-in-Makerfield
44Mansfield171,95848.43,556Mansfield, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Mansfield Woodhouse
45Oxford171,38037.44,585Oxford, Kennington, WheatleyKennington and Wheatley added
47Slough163,77734.14,797Slough, Stoke Poges, Poyle
48Peterborough163,37944.23,693Peterborough, Farcet
49Cambridge158,43442.13,760Cambridge, Fen Ditton, Girton, HistonHiston and Impington and Fen Ditton added.
50Doncaster158,14143.53,634Doncaster, Bentley, Armthorpe, SprotbroughBessacarr added.
51Dundee157,55049.93,180Dundee, Monifieth, Invergowrie
52York153,71734.04,518York, Earswick
53Gloucester150,05340.43,718Gloucester, Innsworth
54Burnley149,42235.74,183Burnley, Padiham, Brierfield, Colne, Barrowford, Nelson
55Telford147,98047.73,103Telford, Broseley
56Blackburn146,52135.64,115Blackburn, Darwen
57Basildon144,85937.13,902Basildon, Wickford, Ramsden Heath, North BenfleetWickford added.
58Grimsby134,16035.33,804Grimsby, Cleethorpes, WalthamNew Waltham removed.
59Hastings133,42233.24,019Hastings, Bexhill
60High Wycombe133,20439.23,398High Wycombe, Cookham, Hughenden Valley
61Thanet125,37027.94,495Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs
62Accrington/ Rossendale125,05930.04,168Accrington, Rawtenstall, Bacup, Great Harwood, Haslingden, Oswaldtwistle, ChurchAccrington and Rossendale areas combined.
63Motherwell124,54045.12,765Motherwell, Wishaw, Bellshill, Viewpark, Newmains, Holytown
64Burton-upon-Trent122,19935.03,487Burton-upon-Trent, SwadlincoteSwadlincote, Stapenhill and Winshill added.[note 6]
65Colchester121,85932.73,732Colchester, Marks Tey
66Eastbourne118,21925.14,705Eastbourne, Polegate
67Exeter117,76328.54,133Exeter, Topsham
69Paignton/ Torquay115,41031.53,667Paignton, Torquay, Marldon
70Lincoln114,87932.73,518Lincoln, North Hykeham
71Chesterfield113,05734.63,263Chesterfield, Staveley, Wingerworth, HolymoorsideWingerworth added.
72Chelmsford111,51126.24,259Chelmsford, Little Waltham
75Bedford106,94024.84,309Bedford, Kempston
76Worcester101,65924.74,121Worcester, Norton

See also


  1. ^ The built-up area names are as of the most recent census. Some articles still use former names or link to the most appropriate article.
  2. ^ ONS definition. Excludes motorways, rivers, lakes, parks and other open space, even if fully contained but wider than 200m.[1]: 10 
  3. ^ ONS definition.[1]: 6 
  4. ^ The areas and sub-divisions can be renamed, merged, split or removed between censuses.
  5. ^ The BUASD that the ONS calls "Milton Keynes" is just that part of Milton Keynes after subtraction of Bletchley,[7] which has been part of its designated area since 1967 and which has expanded since then as part of the overall development.
  6. ^ Stapenhill and Winshill were treated as a separate urban area in the 2001 census but in the 2011 census they were treated as part of the Burton-upon-Trent subdivision.


  1. ^ a b c "2011 Built-up Areas – Methodology and Guidance" (PDF). 2013 v1. Office for National Statistics. June 2013. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Census 2001: Key Statistics for urban areas in the North" (PDF). 2004. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2014.
  3. ^ "United Kingdom: Urban Areas". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  4. ^ "2011 Census – Built-up areas". ONS. Retrieved 1 July 2013. (needs a more direct citation)
  5. ^ Census 2001 Key Statistics, Urban areas in England and Wales Office of National Statistics
  6. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Milton Keynes BUA Built-up area (E34005056)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  7. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Milton Keynes Built-up area sub-division (E35001516)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2 January 2022.

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