1270.0.55.004 - Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 4 - Significant Urban Areas, Urban Centres and Localities, Section of State, July 2016  
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DESIGN OF UCL

Urban Centres and Localities (UCLs) are defined using Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1s) that meet objective ‘urban’ density or infrastructure / land use criteria. The criteria for defining Localities within the UCL structure are different to those used in defining the Urban Centres.

Areas not defined by Urban Centres or Localities are considered to be ‘rural’ for the purpose of statistical analysis. UCLs cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps in combination with this Rural Balance. UCLs can cross State or Territory (S/T) boundaries. In these cases the UCLs are split into two parts along the State or Territory boundaries which allows the UCLs to aggregate up to State or Territory.


URBAN CENTRE DESIGN CRITERIA

Urban Centres are defined by grouping together adjacent SA1s that are considered to be ‘urban’ using the following criteria.

SA1s are considered to be ‘urban' if they:

    have an Urban Mesh Block* population greater or equal to 45% of the total population^ AND a dwelling density greater or equal to 45 dwellings per square (sq) Kilometre (km); OR
    have a population density greater or equal to 100 persons per sq km AND a dwelling density greater or equal to 50 dwellings per sq km; OR
    have a population density greater or equal to 200 person per sq km.

*An Urban Mesh Block is defined as a Mesh Block with a population density of 200 persons or more per sq km.
^The population and dwelling figures used for these criteria are 'Place of Usual Residence' from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.


SA1s that are adjacent to these ‘urban’ SA1s and contain substantial ‘urban infrastructure/ land use’, as defined below, are also considered to be ‘urban’ SA1s. SA1s meeting at a point are not considered to be adjacent.

When a cluster of ‘urban’ SA1s has a total population of 1,000 persons or more it is defined as a separate Urban Centre. Clusters of ‘urban’ SA1s with total populations between 200 and 999 are considered to be Localities (see below).

In defining an Urban Centre, all adjacent urban SA1s are included. Nearby ‘urban’ SA1s, that are located within 500 metres road distance, and that could be regarded as part of the Urban Centre, are also included. These nearby SA1s can be linked to the larger Urban Centre through including adjoining ‘non-urban’ SA1s.

Areas completely surrounded by ‘urban’ SA1s are also classified as ‘urban’. This includes areas that are bounded by an Urban Centre and a shore or coastline.

Both SA1s and Mesh Blocks are designed to reflect the edge of urban areas. However, there are some cases where the other design criteria for these areas, such as population size or alignment to gazetted Suburb and Locality boundaries, may compromise this. As a result some SA1s may contain urban settlement or infrastructure but not meet the ‘urban’ criteria. In these cases discretion has been applied, factoring in the overall design of the Urban Centre, and the affected SA1s included into an adjacent Urban Centre.

Urban Centres with a population of 20,000 people or more are combined with any other Urban Centre within 3km. This distance is calculated along sealed roads between the edge of the closest Urban Mesh Blocks, or adjoining urban infrastructure and land use, within each Urban Centre. SA1s containing or bordering the shortest road route between the two clusters are also included, unless they severely compromise the Urban Centre design. Ferry and rail links are not considered.

Adjacent Urban Centres are not combined together and are considered separate if:
    they are separated by an unbridged geographical barrier, such as a river, escarpment, inlet, lake or swamp;
    the Urban Centres represent separate labour markets (defined as: a GCCSA or the combined SA4s of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and Hunter Valley exc Newcastle, as these represent a single labour market);

Discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and discrete tourist resorts with a population exceeding 1,000 are considered to be Urban Centres regardless of density.

A military base or prison cannot be an Urban Centre in its own right.

State or Territory, Local Government Areas (LGA) and other administrative boundaries are disregarded in determining whether an SA1 should be included within the Urban Centre.


URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AND LAND USE

The following infrastructure and land use are considered to be 'of urban character' if adjacent to an ’urban’ SA1 as described above:
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
    airports with paved runways
    caravan parks
    cemeteries
    community parks and reserves
    defence facilities
    educational institutions
    electricity sub stations
    golf courses
    grain storage
    hospitals
    industrial areas (including meat works and abattoirs)
    non-agricultural commercial development
    office complexes
    parks, reserve areas, foreshore reserves that are between an urban area and the shoreline
    ports and port facilities
    prisons
    racecourses
    railway stations, bus stations and similar transport hubs
    research facilities
    sale yards
    sewerage facilities
    shopping centres
    show grounds
    sports facilities
    tourist attractions (including theme parks)
    tourist resorts
    unpaved airstrips immediately contiguous with the built up area
    waste disposal facilities.

The following infrastructures and land uses are not considered urban, unless completely surrounded by urban SA1s:
    mines
    wineries
    power stations
    dams and reservoirs
    national parks
    forests
    shooting ranges
    explosives handling and munitions areas
    defence force training grounds.


LOCALITY DESIGN CRITERIA

Localities represent smaller discrete settlements with populations of at least 200 and less than 1,000 people. The definition of Localities is more subjective than for Urban Centres as their population can be well below the optimal for a single SA1. SA1 design therefore has a significant influence on their definition. In addition, there are many different configurations of small settlements, including villages, towns, clusters of peri - urban style development, and areas with significant tourism.

Localities are defined by grouping together adjacent SA1s that meet the following ‘locality’ criteria.

SA1s are considered to meet the ‘locality’ criteria if they:
    are not included in an Urban Centre (as defined above); AND
    have at least one Urban Mesh Block*; AND
    have a population density greater or equal to 200 person per sq km.

*An Urban Mesh Block is defined as a Mesh Block with a population density of 200 persons or more per sq km.


Localities can be defined in any of the following ways:
    One or more adjacent ‘urban’ SA1s (as described in the Urban Centre criteria) with a total population of at least 200 people and less than 1,000 people.
    One or more adjacent ‘locality’ SA1s with a total population of at least 200 people (enumerated or usual residence).
    One or more adjacent SA1s representing a Discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community with a total population between 200 and 999 (enumerated or usual residence).
    One or more adjacent SA1s with a total population of at least 200 people (enumerated or usual residence) in a concentration of housing and a discernible community centre containing community facilities, such as a sports ground, school or shops.

A Locality may contain a population exceeding 999 persons if it contains an ‘urban’ SA1 that does not meet all the criteria for an Urban Centre (see above). These are referred to as large localities.

A Locality is combined with an adjacent Urban Centre or Locality unless they are functionally a separate entity.

A military base, prison or retirement community cannot be a locality in their own right.

A locality cannot cross State or Territory boundaries.

The 200 minimum population size for Localities is set to enable users to access cross classified Census data for these areas without the resulting counts becoming too small for use. There are many small towns with populations less than 200 people that are not included as UCLs. These small towns are represented by State Government Gazetted Localities. The ABS provides Census data on these localities through the State Suburbs (SSCs), which are part of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Volume 3: Non ABS Structures.

In some cases the population for existing Localities has fallen below 200. In many cases this is a result of only a small population decline which may be temporary. To avoid the situation where Localities are brought in and out of the UCL classification, these Localities are only removed from the classification if their population drops below 180. If the population of a Locality remains below 200 across two Censuses it will also be removed from the classification. As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander discrete community populations fluctuate more significantly, they will only be removed if the population remains below 200 across two Censuses.


REMAINDER OF STATE/TERRITORY

All SA1s in a State or Territory which are not included in an UCL, are combined into 'Remainder of State/Territory' which represents the Rural Balance of the State or Territory. Special purpose SA1s (Migratory – Offshore – Shipping and No usual address) are excluded from this and included in a separate category.