You asked

I wish to obtain a list of all Towns and Cities in the UK. The classification here is new and 'Towns' may be substituted as a 'Suburb'. Please also provide the GSS code.

We said

Thank you for your request.

Our definition of a Major Town or City has been developed specifically for the production and analysis of statistics where it focuses on the ‘core’ town or city rather than its surrounding area. We have set a population size threshold 75,000. One result of this is that some smaller cities with official city status are excluded.

A names and codes list of the Major Towns and Cities can be found here. Please be aware that the GSS code still has its experimental entity code. This will change to an E and W entity code once officially adopted.

The Major Towns and Cities geography is based on the built-up area (BUAs) dataset that was created for 2011 Census outputs in England and Wales. This captured the built environment in a 50m grid to identify settlements without reference to the boundaries of administrative areas. For the Major Towns and Cities geography, the link to BUAs has been retained wherever possible. The names and code file for BUAs can be found here.

We don’t have a specific suburbs listing but we do have Built-up Areas Sub Divisions (BUASDs). BUASDs provide greater detail for suburbs of the larger conurbations or smaller settlements that surround towns or cities. In some cases, BUASDs provide a better basis for identifying individual towns and cities. The names and codes file can be found on the Open Geography portal here.

You can find out how the BUAs or their sub-divisions (BUASDs) were built in the user guide on the Open Geography portal.

In order to qualify as a Major Town or City a settlement had to have a usual resident population or workday population (2011 Census) of 75,000 or more. The workday population was included to pick up cities such as Shrewsbury. Such places, despite having a resident population of just under 75,000 people, are still locally important urban centres, with significantly higher workday populations.

The 75,000 population size limit gives a reasonable a number of places for analysis. If the 75,000 population size limit was reduced the number of places included increases, making the dataset less manageable for analysis. In addition, the identification of individual towns and cities within the larger conurbations becomes increasingly difficult the smaller the population size of the settlement.

The 75,000 threshold produced 112 major towns and cities. 92 were made up of exact boundaries of individual BUAs (8) or individual BUASDs (84). Four were made up of aggregations of BUASDs. The remaining 16 areas came about as a result of some manual adjustment to the original BUASDs boundaries.

All digital boundaries can be found on the Open Geography portal.

Major Towns and Cities –

BUAs -


The following story map will give you some more information about the Major Towns and Cities geography -