Developing retail geographies to inform high street policy; a project by Ordnance Survey (OS) and Office of National Statistics (ONS)

Iain Goodwin (Ordnance Survey) and Hayley Holgate (Office for National Statistics)

Showcasing joint work in 2018/19 between OS and ONS to develop high street extents and statistical analysis to inform policy. We asked: Where are Britain’s high streets and their extents? How are high streets used and how does that compare across Britain? How to integrate geography and statistics to create insights that helps government to intervene and track success? There is a broad range of policy interest across government in ensuring successful high streets that drive positive socio-economic outcomes, but also lack of understanding as to where they are, how they are used and what makes a high street successful or failing. OS and ONS worked together to help government improve their understanding of high streets, recognising that the physical and socio-economic environment in the centres of our communities are inextricably linked, requiring closer integration between geography and statistics. Using retail clustering as our starting point, rules were applied to find the extents for each of Britain’s 7000 high streets. Land use metrics and location IDs were added to enable integration with statistics on population, housing, business, and employment, to produce a range of initial statistical findings. Content: OS methods for finding and attributing high streets, and work to identify other types of retail geographies. Use of the extents to create statistical insights included in ONS high street report.