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New Geos: U.K. - Metro Areas
Friday, 04 Nov 2011 15:28 ET
By Megan Perkinson
October 2011 -- We have selected ten metropolitan areas for the United Kingdom, per ESPON definitions.

For the purposes of our global estimates and forecasts, Moody’s Analytics has defined metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom conforming to definitions published by the European Spatial Planning Organization Network (ESPON), which aggregates the following ten areas from Local Administrative Units (LAU 1). A full list, of the areas and their constituents with Data Buffet geo codes, is attached.

  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle

We investigated three authorities, and selected ESPON as a guide because its definitions are available for all U.K. urban areas, are consistent across them, and are comparable internationally.

  • The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which produced a report on English cities which defined "Primary Urban Areas" (PUAs) as aggregates of the electoral wards or divisions.
  • Definitions by individual city councils of "City-Regions" that are the enlarged territories from which core urban areas draw people for work and services such as shopping, education, health, leisure and entertainment.
  • The ESPON study considered metropolitan areas in 29 European countries. ESPON 1.1.1 produced a list of functional urban areas (FUAs) based on population in standardized NUTS-type areas; ESPON 1.4.3 made corrections to this list and added the concept of a morphological urban area (MUA), or core, such that a FUA consists of a core plus a surrounding labor basin. This is akin to the OMB's methodology for U.S. core-based statistical areas.


  • ESPON: Study on Urban Functions (Project 1.4.3) section 3.29
  • Office of the Deputy Prime Minister:
    • PUA definition (PDF, attached)
    • List of PUAs (PDF, attached)
  • Birmingham City-Region (PDF, attached)
  • Edinburgh City-Region (PDF, attached)