Population around the county

Unless otherwise stated, information on this page comes from the 2011 Census.

Download small area population estimates.

Key issues 

  • Herefordshire remains one of the least densely populated areas of the country, with residents scattered across its 842 square miles.  Two-fifths of residents live in the most rural areas of the county.  Providing services to people over this large area presents a challenge.
  • There are differences in age structure around the county; most notably Hereford city has relatively high proportions of young adults (aged 20-34), whilst rural Herefordshire has relatively high proportions of older adults (aged 45-75).  The market towns have the highest proportions of people aged 80+.

Distribution around the county

Herefordshire has the 4th lowest overall population density in England (the 9th lowest in England & Wales combined) at 84 people per square kilometre (or 0.84 per hectare; 218 per square mile), and the population is scattered across the 842 square miles of the county.

Just under a third of residents (58,900) live in Hereford city.  Just over a fifth live in the five market towns: 'urban' Leominster & Ross (still the only towns with more than ten thousand residents - 11,700 and 10,600, respectively) and 'rural' Ledbury (9,600), Bromyard (4,500) & Kington (3,200).

This means that nearly half of the population lives in villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings in the surrounding rural areas. In total, 54% of the population live in areas classified as 'rural'; 44% in the most rural type ('rural village or dispersed'). 
The largest rural parishes in the county (1,600 residents or more) include Colwall, Credenhill, Lugwardine and Cradley.

A scattered population presents particular challenges for service delivery; 'sparsity' measures give an indication of how widely dispersed an area's population is. Despite other counties having a lower overall population density, no area has a greater proportion of its population living in 'very sparse' areas than Herefordshire (25%) according to measures used in the calculation of the Local Government Finance Settlement. The first paper available to download from the third resource box below presents the analysis behind this statement, and the second looks at other aspects related to sparsity: distance from key services and road length.

Growth around the county

Population growth during the decade between the 2001 and 2011 censuses has been more rapid in urban parts of Herefordshire; with Hereford city undergoing the largest growth (7%) since 2001, followed by the larger market towns of Leominster, Ross-on-Wye and Ledbury (each increasing by 5%) and the smaller market towns of Bromyard and Kington (each increasing by 2%).  Rural areas which saw some of the highest levels of population growth include the parishes of Lucton and Bartestree, both increased by at least a third.

Population change in other areas can be downloaded below.

Age structure around the county

The chart below illustrates how the age structure varies in different types of areas in Herefordshire (as described in the key points above), and the table gives the numbers in different age groups for the city, individual market towns and the rest of the county.  More detailed numbers can be downloaded below.

Figure 1: Age structure of different areas, Census 2011

Figure 2: Population by age in different areas of Herefordshire, Census 2011

Small area populations: Census vs mid-year estimates

The current definitive population figures for areas smaller than county level are from the 2011 Census, and figures for wards, parishes, market towns and Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) can be downloaded from the first resource box below. 2001 Census figures are also included to show change over time.

Since the Census only takes place every 10 years, official population figures for the intervening years are not available. However, during the last decade the ONS has produced 'experimental' annual estimates for LSOAs and wards for 2002 to 2010.  Note that these have now been superseded by the 2011 Census results, and are not comparable for several reasons.  The ONS will be revisiting its methodology in light of the census.  However, they are still available to download from the second resource box below for historical reference.

A summary report containing more detailed analysis and population distribution maps will shortly be available to download from this page. 2011 Census population figures for Localities will also follow, however mid-year estimates from 2001 to 2010 are available to download from the second resource box below.

2011 Census populations for areas of Herefordshire


Mid-year population estimates for areas of Herefordshire

Note: superseded by 2011 Census (above) – for historical reference only


Sparsity of Herefordshire's population

  • File (43.47kb)Sparsity of Population in Herefordshire
  • An analysis of Herefordshire's position, relative to the other 149 English top tier local authorities, in terms of 'sparsity' measures used in the Local Government Finance Settlement.
  • 43 kb

Last updated: 28 November 2013