The Agency is working with the DTLR, DEFRA and
ONS on a DTLR-led project to research better definitions of "rural".
However, we are not satisfied with the progress being made towards
defining an acceptable single definition.
Ideally, the Agency would like to use a settlement-based
definition of rural that distinguishes between settlements and
their surrounding area, settlements of different sizes, which
takes into account issues of remoteness, peripherality and other
key attributes. This settlement-based approach will allow aggregation
to the postcode sector, ward and local authority levels. We wish
to give the project new impetus and have just reached agreement
with DEFRA on the immediate adoption of Agency definitions for
rural. ONS will do so with effect from April. Furthermore, we
will be pursuing a similar agreement with DTLR.
However, this agreement will not address the
small number of known anomalies within the definition. The Agency
is proposing that immediate work begins to establish agreement
to rectify these and finally to work on a year long project to
establish a more robust and transparent agreed definition of rural
at different geographies.