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Journal article

Take me to the Centre of your Town! Using micro-geographical data to identify Town Centres


© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Ifo Institute, Munich. All rights reserved. We often talk about 'Town Centres' (TCs), but defining their location and extent is surprisingly difficult. Their boundaries are hard to pin down and intrinsically fuzzy. Nevertheless, policymakers often speak or act as if their definition was self-evident. The Dutch and later the British governments, for example, introduced very specific policies for them without ever clearly defining what or where they were. In this article, we propose a simple methodology to predict TC boundaries and extent. Using a range of micro-geographical data, we test our method for the whole of Great Britain in an attempt to capture all the dimensions of 'town centredness' in a 3D surface. We believe this is a contribution in its own right but is also an essential step if there is to be any rigorous analysis of TC or evaluation of policies directed at them. Our method should contribute to improve not just debates about cities, shopping hierarchies, and TCs but also to other more general debates where people and policy proceed ahead of any clear definition of what are the objects of interest.


Paul Cheshire, Christian Hilber, Piero Montebruno and Rosa Sanchis-Guarner

1 June 2018


CESifo Economic Studies 64(2) , pp.255-291, 2018


DOI: 10.1093/cesifo/ify002

This Journal article is published under the centre's Urban programme.