Do you know how much of Rochdale is urban?

Date published: 10 November 2017

When you think of the Rochdale borough, you may think of industrial units and business parks, blocks of flats and busy roads. Or you might picture the green fields of Slattocks, the rising moors near Catley Lane Head or the calming waters of Hollingworth Lake, surrounded by moorland, but is the region more green and spacious, or filled with urban developments?

In actual fact, those who feel the area is quite urban in nature would be correct.

Over a quarter (26%) of the borough is covered with roads and buildings etc., way above the national average in the UK of just 6%. Neighbouring regions Bury and Manchester both have high levels of urban land with 32% and 67%, respectively, whereas other neighbouring regions such as Rossendale (12%) and Calderdale (11%) both have relatively low levels of urbanisation.

However, those who wake up with a view of rolling green hills or a view of the idyllic Hollingworth Lake may feel the borough is greener than these figures suggest.

The Rochdale borough has more than three times the average number of green urban spaces in the UK, such as parks, gardens and sports pitches. 10% of Rochdale is made up of spaces like this, which covers just 3% of the UK. However, in Manchester, this rises to 30%.

Whilst the UK is largely made up of farmland (57%), this figure is lower in Rochdale at just over a third of the land in the borough with 34%.

Rural land accounts for more than a third of the UK’s land (35%), dropping to 31% in the borough. Almost half of neighbouring region Rossendale is made up of natural spaces like moors and natural grassland (49%), dropping as low as <1% in the Manchester city region.

The four categories are created from 44 different land use codes used by the Co-ordination of Information on the Environment (Corine) project started by the European Commission in 1985.

The project offers a detailed picture of all land across the UK using high-definition satellite images and local maps. The data has been produced with the help of Dr Alasdair Rae who works in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield.

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