Catalogue description Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: State of the Cities Database

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Details of AT 104
Reference: AT 104
Title: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: State of the Cities Database

The State of the Cities Database was a collection of data underpinning the State of the English Cities Report, originally published in March 2006 by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The datasets represent the data that were used in the work undertaken by the Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group of Sheffield University, which was used to prepare the 2006 Reports, and as accessioned by the United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets in 2009.

This series contains all the key indicators of urban performance used in the report. These key indicators were gathered for 56 cities in England. The key indicators drew upon the analytical framework and drivers of urban success developed in earlier work for the ODPM, Competitive European Cities: Where Do the Core Cities Stand? (ODPM, 2004). These were: economic diversity, skilled workforce, connectivity, innovation in firms and organisations, quality of life and strategic capacity to deliver long term development strategies. The indicators of these drivers were grouped under four broad headings: social cohesion, economic competitiveness, liveability and governance.

Data was made available at different geographical levels:

The 56 Primary Urban Areas (PUAs): PUAs were an attempt to define major cities by their physical extent rather than administrative boundaries. Main Urban Settlements were used as the basis for creating PUAs; these were defined as areas of at least 20 hectares with an associated population of at least 1,000 people and a continuous built-up area of land that contains urban structures that are within 50 metres of each other. There were 56 English PUAs in the SOCD, which were selected by setting a population threshold of 125,000 (from the 2001 Census population).

The 56 Travel To Work Areas (TTWAs): TTWAs were used to approximate City-Region boundaries (although more specific City-Region boundaries existed within SOCD for the eight Core Cities).

Core City Regions: The Core Cities Group was a network of England's major regional cities outside of London: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Tracts: Tracts were aggregations of wards covering the whole of Britain. They were created by the University of Sheffield to produce a set of areas with a similar population and with borders which remain reasonably consistent; this means that the data can be compared through time. Tracts represent standard neighbourhoods averaging 35,000 residents.

Areas of Town Centre Activity (ATCAs): The boundaries and statistics for ATCAs were created using a statistical methodology, which produced a nationally consistent method for defining boundaries around concentrations of activities typically associated with town centres.

Retail Cores: In order to capture centres in areas (such as the West End in Central London) which were regarded as retail concentrations, a trimmed down model was produced which only mapped retail activity. Retail cores nest within Areas of Town Centre Activity (an ATCA can have one or more retail cores).

Date: 1971-2006

The original hardware and operating system is not known. The State of the Cities Database (SOCD) were held in a Microsoft SQL server database.

User interface: Copies of portions of the data were made available online in two places:

  • An online version of the SOCD was provided by the Department at Since this data was powered by a database, it was possible for users to run queries on the data and download the results.
  • A static version of some of the SOCD underlying data, downloadable as spreadsheets, was made available online by the University of Sheffield at This is the version available here.

Logical structure and schema: The datasets as downloaded comprised a number of separate spreadsheets called 'SOCD Data Files'. NDAD treated each spreadsheet as a dataset. Each spreadsheet had a number of worksheets, which have been rendered as dataset tables.

How data was originally captured and validated: The researchers at Sheffield downloaded raw data from various online sources as the starting point to build the key indicators. In many cases, the raw source material came from the UK Census. Other Office for National Statistics sources used included population estimates, estimates of income, neighbourhood statistics, life expectancy data, and key population data. In addition, the researchers used Income support data from the Department of Work and Pensions; the Labour Force survey (ONS labour market statistics from; school data from the DfES; indices of deprivation from the ODPM; Home Office crime data; published studies from other Universities; and other sources.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: CRDA/76
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2002-2006

Physical description: 83 datasets and documentation
Restrictions on use: The State of the Cities datasets and related dataset documentation are Crown Copyright. Copies may be made for private study and research purposes only.
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

In 2010 the United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets

Selection and destruction information: The State of the Cities dataset was selected for permanent preservation by The National Archives under TNA Acquisition Policy theme OSP30, The Interaction of the State with its Citizens.
Accruals: Further accruals are not expected.
Unpublished finding aids:

Extent of documentation: 98 documents, Dates of creation of documentation: 2004-2006

Administrative / biographical background:

In its Urban White Paper of 2000, Towards an Urban Renaissance, the Government made a commitment to commission a report on the progress and performance of English cities in the last five years. The State of the Cities report (SOCR) to government was completed by a consortium of research organisations in response to that commitment. The aim and purpose of the report was to provide a comprehensive assessment of urban conditions and drivers of urban change in England. It reviewed the impact of government policies upon cities, explored how they contributed to local, regional and national success and identified key policy messages. The SOCR was published in March 2006.

The State of the Cities Database was a collection of data used to underpin the SOCR.

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