How Much Of The UK IS Built On?

The BBC published a fascinating web article last week that should be of interest to geographers. It was titled ‘How Much Of Your Area Is Built On?’, and allows you to find out exactly how the land is used in your local authority area. Access the web site here:

 The data has been synthesised from satellite images and detailed maps and identifies land that falls into four different categories – farmland, natural areas, built on areas and urban green areas. You can check how individual areas compare to data for the whole of the UK:

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The UK data shows that half of the land area is farmland (fields, orchards etc), just over a third might be termed natural or semi-natural (moors, heathland, natural grassland etc), a little under 6% is built on (roads, buildings, airports, quarries etc) and 2.5% is green urban (parks, gardens, golf courses, sports pitches etc).

 In addition, you can make comparisons between different parts of the UK. For instance, here is a comparison between my own rural area of north Devon and an urban area from the north west region:

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The local authorities with the highest proportion of farmland are the Isles of Scilly (96%) and Mid Suffolk (95%), while the council area with the greatest quantity of “natural” landscape is Highland (91%). The City of London has the highest amount of land that is built on (98%) and the local authority with the greatest proportion of green urban is Richmond upon Thames (58%).

 The web page introduced me to a new phrase – ‘continuous urban fabric’ (CUF), which describes one of the classifications that applies to areas where 80-100% of the land surface is built on. Up to a fifth might be gardens or small parks, but the vast majority is built on. The City of London is the local authority with the highest proportion of CUF in the country – 98%.

Before you begin to examine the data in any detail, you may want to test yourself by considering answers to the following questions about UK land use. Answers can be found in the blog link found on the web site

Q1) What percentage of the UK is considered ‘continuous urban fabric’?

Q2) What percentage of the UK is considered ‘discontinuous urban fabric’?

Q3) Which local authority has the greatest amount of land devoted to golf? How much?

Q4) How much of the Lake District is lakes?

Q5) What percentage of the UK is made up of peat bogs?


About devongeography

Head of Geography and Assistant Vice Principal at South Molton Community College, North Devon. Exeter Chiefs supporter!
This entry was posted in Curriculum, General Geo, Human World, Maps, Physical World, Teachers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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