Commuting regions take over more of Britain

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The Independent Online

Urban workers moving to the countryside have led to big changes in commuting within England and Wales,

In just 10 years, a national commuting corridor running along the spine of England, from London to Liverpool, has widened towards the Welsh border in the west and East Anglia and Lincolnshire in the east. It has also stretched from London down to the south coast.

The researchers said: "London is at the top, with a flow of around 900,000 commuters. Birmingham and Manchester follow with flows of around 200,000 commuters in the centre of the city."

In the study, the team from the University of Copenhagen, analysed changes in commuter patterns over a 10-year period using census data on home and work addresses. It shows that most commuting takes place in a corridor that runs through London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool

At the start of the 10 year period, the corridor was relatively narrow, but the research shows that a decade later it had widened considerably. While commuting distances have lengthened, short-distance commuting in the heart of the corridor has declined. Commuting has also expanded outside the corridor around Bristol, Newcastle and especially Cardiff.

The research report, in the Journal of Transport Geography, found: "The build-up of commuting surrounding London has expanded in all directions, and stronger links between Greater London and the south coast - Brighton and Southampton - have emerged."

And the report has identified an urban exodus and increasing commute distances resulting from a de-concentration of population and jobs, as well as an increase in the distances people commute and a preference for combining rural living with urban jobs and services.

The research had shown that many people in rural areas now have what the report calls a "dual existence".

It states: "They wish to belong to the countryside by living there, but at the same time work or shop in the city,."

Other research, it said, has pointed to home choice as the main driver of the urban exodus.

The report adds: "It has been reported that accessible semi-rural areas are one of the most preferred places for dual-career households to locate to and that they are willing to commute long distances to be able to do this."