Mid-Sized Cities

This report looks at how closer collaboration of the 26 largest cities after the Core Cities might benefit the national economy.

Report published on 10 June 2013

While most policymakers can name the nine largest English cities, few could also identify all the other English cities with more than 250,000 residents. In fact there are 26 of them and together they represent 14 per cent of England’s economy, in terms of both GVA and total population. This means that in simple comparison terms their collective economies are a similar size to all the Core Cities combined, and almost as large as that of London:

  • There are 26 mid-sized cities in England with populations between 500,000 and 250,000.
  • Mid-sized cities have a combined population of 8.9 million, compared to 8.8 million people in the Core Cities and 9.4 million people living in Greater London.
  • Between 2001 and 2011 mid-sized cities accounted for 14.2 per cent of England’s population growth.
  • In 2011 the combined Gross Value Added (GVA) of mid-sized cities amounted to 14 per cent of England’s total GVA.
  • Mid-sized cities include many of England’s faster growing cities by GVA, some well-known such as Milton Keynes and Reading, and some less so, such as Portsmouth and Wakefield.
  • 12 mid-sized cities are outperforming national average growth, although others underperform.

This report investigates the shared and differing economic characteristics across this group of cities, and looks at what they can offer the UK as a whole and the advantages of closer collaboration.


This report was supported by Coventry, Derby, Preston and Sunderland City Councils.