town centres across England and Wales, together with statistics
covering employment and floorspace. These statistical boundaries are
generated from data on economic activity, in order to take a
town centres for planning policy purposes. The boundaries will
change over time, as the underlying economic data changes, reflecting
the growth and decline of the town centres.
Released in April 2004, the first set of boundaries and statistics
were based on 2000 data and were released on a consultation basis to
generate feedback. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are now updating this to cover 2002 data, whilst introducing minor changes to the 2000 set. Both years'
boundaries and statistics are available on a provisional basis
through the ODPM's website.
Planned revisions to the underlying floorspace data are due in June
2005, after which ODPM will release revised boundaries and
statistics, covering a longer time series. The report on the website
that accompanied the original release in April 2004 explained the
background, technical detail and caveats associated with this town
centres statistics project, and it is still applicable to this new
release of 2002 boundaries and statistics.
The main results
The 2002 boundaries cover 1033 areas of town centre activity, and 46
retail cores - concentrations of retail activity within town centres.
This is very similar to the 2000 set of boundaries, but there have
been some changes. Holborn and Clerkenwell retail cores in London
have merged, as have town centres in Putney. Most town centres will
have seen a small amount of change where there has been development
around the boundary. For instance, it is possible to identify the
development since 2000 at Temple Quay in Bristol. However, two years'
data is not sufficient to draw any conclusions regarding growth or
decline from this developing data source, especially with the
revisions to the data due later this year.
Whilst this project generates boundaries for many smaller town
centres, areas smaller than 4 hectares are not included since the
geo-referencing within the boundaries is not accurate enough, and the
data is likely to compromise confidentiality. As a result, in some
areas whilst the levels of town centre activity may have changed only
very slightly, it has resulted in new small town centres being
identified in the 2002 set, since the boundary has just crept over
the 4 hectare threshold. Similarly, other small town centres that
were included in 2000 have dropped out in the 2002 set.
Changes to 2000 data set
There have been some minor revisions to the 2000 set of boundaries
and statistics following user-feedback on the release in April 2004.
Making use of local knowledge is vital to this project, and we are
very grateful for all the feedbackwe receive. Comments help to
improve the boundaries and statistics, and are taken into account in
improving the project for future releases. For instance, several
centres included in the 2000 set have been renamed to better reflect
the local area, following comments from users.
Floorspace Data revisions
The boundaries and statistics are marked as provisional and subject
to revision. The floorspace statistics that underlie the town centres
project are undergoing revisions to provide comparable data from 1998
to 2004. This series will be released in June 2005. We anticipate
these revisions will have a small impact on the boundaries and
statistics for areas of town centre activity for 2002, and perhaps
more so for the 2000 set. As a result, the planned release of a
longer time series of boundaries and statistics has been postponed
until later in 2005, when we will be able to incorporate the
floorspace revisions. The time series release will also include a
number of other planned changes to cover more complete data and
improved web access to the data.
PO Box Data Issues
The data covering employment comes from the Office for National
Statistics (ONS) Annual Business Inquiry (ABI). This data is
allocated to postcodes that are geo-referenced to a specific
location, and it is this geo-referenced data that creates the measure
of town centre activity that in turn determines the boundaries.
However, where data is attached to a PO Box, it is geo-referenced to
the sorting office from which the post is delivered, rather than the
actual business address. This artificially increases business
activity levels around sorting offices, and simultaneously detracts
from town centre activity levels. Since most larger town centres
contain a sorting office with a significant level of PO box activity,
this is an important data quality issue affecting the current
boundaries and statistics. ODPM are working to address this issue,
in conjunction with ONS, and a resolution will be in place when the
revised boundaries and statistics are released later in 2005.
1. The 2002 boundaries and statistics continue the outputs from
ODPM's Town Centres Statistics project and update the 2000 boundaries
and statistics published in April 2004.
2. The boundaries and associated statistics are provisional and
subject to revision. PLUS1 are undertaking a series of revisions to
provide a comparable time series of floorspace statistics from 1998
to 2004. This series will be released in June 2005. These revisions
will feed into the town centres work and revised boundaries and
statistics will be released towards the end of 2005.
3. The floorspace and rateable value statistics for non-domestic
properties in England and Wales are compiled by ODPM for government
office regions, local authority districts and wards as at 1 April
each year. The statistics are derived from administrative databases
used by the VOA in the process of assessing the value on non-domestic
property in England and Wales.
4. The employment statistics come from the Office for National
Statistics' Annual Business Inquiry. The 2002 data included in this
project is currently provisional. Final data was released by ONS in
December 2004, with only minor revisions, and will be incorporated in
the town centres release at the end of 2005.