Hyperlocal and ‘postcode areas’

‘Postcode areas’ are often used to define the space – the hyperlocale as I’ve taken to calling it – which hyperlocal blogs serve, for example Sutton Coldfield Local used to be the B72 Blog and that sense of space is still fairly implicit in its coverage despite the name change (see also B31 Voices and many many others). I’m trying to wrap my head around what we mean by a postcode area, and what that means in terms of scale and reach. This table is useful in clarifying the various levels of the postcode system and what that means in terms of hyperlocal audience.

Average population size for postcode geographical areas

Average population

Area name

England & Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

Postcode area (e.g. YO)

500,000

400,000

1,750,000

Postcode district (e.g. YO10)

22,500

12,000

21,500

Postcode sector (e.g. YO10 5)

600

600

600

Full postcode (e.g. YO10 5DG)

40

40

40

So interestingly, most times I hear people talk about postcode area they mean a postcode district, and a postcode district is probably larger than I thought it was…

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Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org

  • http://www.b13.org.uk Mike Cummins

    Introduction of the postcode took 15 years from 1959 and the stated intention at the time of limiting a postcode unit to 40 drops has in many cases been overtaken by events.

    This is especially true of the main Urban centres, where postcoding was started, as the character of housing may have changed considerably since the 1960s. Areas such as Moseley and Selly Oak, for example, had a massive expansion in HMOs during the middle to late 60s that is unreflected. Areas of traditional immigration, such as Sparkhill and Balsall Heath are very different now from the early 60s or even the 80s.

    This does mean that a certain amount of caution should be taken when defining how big a sector is.

    • Jon Hickman

      Thanks for the reply Mike, I was hoping it would prompt some responses from some people who know more about them 😉

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