Agglomeration and the Northern Powerhouse

Northern powerhouse

New city boundaries published today by the Office for National Statistics help illustrate the fragmentation of the great cities of the Northern Powerhouse, and highlight the importance of integration.

The orange areas are the previous definition of “built up area” while the black areas are the newly defined “Major Towns and Cities” statistical areas. It shows very neatly how the major metropolitan areas of the north are a collection of many cities, and contrasts with the concentration of London (same scale).


New and improved transport links are obviously an important part of integrating the cities of the Northern Powerhouse into a stronger economic whole, and major public investment will be needed. But in the longer term a more ambitious approach would be to also allow the largest core cities (Greater Manchester, Leeds…) to grow much faster, with major housebuilding, to create a more concentrated regional economy.


2 thoughts on “Agglomeration and the Northern Powerhouse

  1. Does this mean that the ONS have ceased monitoring built-up areas? This would be a shame since it is these that measure the true extent – the true footprint – of our cities and towns. The black areas above seem to correspond pretty much exactly with current administrative boundaries, which are pretty arbitrary as we know.

    • No, I don’t think so, this is an additional geography rather than a replacement one. There will never be a single correct definition of where a city ends, so it’s useful that ONS are offering different options for analysis.

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