SPACEial North West

Our Question


Measuring Urban and Rural Change in NWRCBA  

SPACEIAL-NEW-REPORT-COVER.jpgThe SPACEial North West[1] Project was awarded funding through the INTERREG IVA  Programme - Public Sector Collaboration Theme in 2010, to ‘examine how urban and rural settlement patterns have changed in the North West Region Cross Border Area over the period 2000 – 2010’.  During this time period Derry/Londonderry and  Letterkenny was designated as a joint gateway[2]  and the population of the North West Gateway[3] grew from 105,894[4] persons  to an estimated 113, 099[5] persons.  

This report is underpinned by two concepts that of ‘urbanisation’ and ‘counter urbanisation’.[6] Urbanisation is the increase in the proportion of people living in towns and cities and occurs when people move from rural areas to towns and cities.  Urbanisation is more likely to increase when a country or region is developing and people move in search of better paid jobs, opportunities, housing, education, heath services and all that the larger urban areas have to offer. 

In turn, ‘counter urbanisation’ occurs once an urban area reaches a certain size and people begin to relocate towards the rural environments.  A number of factors can cause such counter-urbanisation including increased car ownership, a growth in IT, an increases in working from home, retirement, congestion in big cities, the locations of business and retail parks on the outskirts of cites, social problems associated with inner urban area  etc.

Although the population of the cross border gateway appears to have grown, it is not possible to say whether the North West Region Cross Border Area is becoming more urban or rural without an examination of the population dynamics at different spatial scales and this is the starting point of the SPACEial North West Project.

To learn more about urbanisation in the North West Region Cross Border Area please see Chapter 1

[1] SPACEial NW stands for Spatial Planning and Collaborative Exchange of information and learning in the North West Region.

[2] The National Spatial Strategy (2002) and The Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland (2001),

[3] Includes the Derry Urban Area ( Derry, Culmore, Newbuildings & Strathfoyle) and Letterkenny and Environs) in Census  2001/02).

[4] This uses 2001 Census for Derry, Limavady, Magherafelt and Strabane and  Census 2002 for Donegal .

[5] This uses Small Area Population Estimates (SDLs) for settlements in Derry, Limavady, Magherafelt and Strabane and Census 2011 figures for Donegal.