Geography FAQ


Wards, or electoral wards, are one of the main administrative areas on which local government is based. Each local authority (district or borough) is divided into a number of wards and between 1 and 3 councillors are elected to represent each ward on the council. Until quite recently wards were the smallest areas about which reliable statistics were available and a lot of information is still published at ward level.

Ward boundaries are regularly reviewed and since the 2001 Census the boundary between Bletchingly & Nutfield and Burstow, Horne & Outwood in Tandridge has been changed, affecting around 2.5% of the population of the ward.

When viewing datasets containing ward data the “More Info” button or “Info” tab will indicate whether the data is for CAS wards or 2008 wards:

CAS Wards refer to the ward boundaries in place at the time of the 2001 Census which were used as the geography for the Census Area Statistics.
2008 Wards are the current ward boundaries, including this change.
There are 206 wards in Surrey.

Electoral Divisions

Electoral Divisions are the county council wards. In Surrey one councillor is elected to represent each division on the county council.

There are 81 electoral divisions in Surrey.

Districts and boroughs

Districts and boroughs are the local authorities.

There are 11 districts and boroughs in Surrey.

Neighbourhood Statistics (NeSS) Geography Hierarchy

The UK Stats Neighbourhood Statistics (NeSS) Geography Hierarchy is based on aggregations of Output Areas (OAs) and has been introduced to avoid the frequently changing geography of electoral wards. It is also intended to allow a range of different sizes of area at which data can be presented.

Output Areas

These were introduced as the smallest units of output for the 2001 Census. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland they have a minimum size of 100 residents and 40 households.

There are 3,586 output areas in Surrey.

Super Output Areas (SOAs)

These are units of geography used in the UK for statistical analysis. They are developed and released by UK Statistics.
To support a range of potential requirements there are currently 2 layers of SOAs:

Lower Layer

Minimum population 1000; mean 1500. Built from groups of OAs (typically 4 to 6) and constrained by the boundaries of the Census Area Statistics (CAS) wards used for 2001 Census outputs.

There are 709 Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA) in Surrey.

Middle Layer

Minimum population 5000; mean 7200. Built from groups of Lower Layer SOAs and constrained by the 2003 local authority boundaries used for 2001 Census outputs.

There are 151 Middle Super Output Areas (MSOA) in Surrey.


Parishes are subdivisions of local authorities in many parts of England. Parish councils are the most local level of government. Parishes are not found in all parts of Surrey.

Data for parishes is derived by aggregating the census information for the output areas which cover the parish.

There are 87 parishes in Surrey but the parish of Titsey is too small to meet the minimum population threshold for data to be published and is included with Tatsfield.

Safer Neighbourhoods

Safer Neighbourhoods are a geography used by Surrey Police to provide a visible presence in a neighbourhood.  Consisting of a Neighbourhood Specialist Officer and one or more Police Community Support Officers, the Safer Neighbourhood Teams are fully supported by response officers, detectives and other Surrey Police specialists.

There are 106 Safer Neighbourhoods in Surrey.

Clinical commissioning Groups

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are groups of GPs that from April 2013 are responsible for designing local health services in England.

Approximate boundaries for CCGs have been derived from Wards and Lower Super output areas.

Four Clinical Commissioning groups are wholly within Surrey, with a fifth (Guildford and Waverley) almost entirely within Surrey, but also including a small part of Chichester District Council area. Data for these five CCGs is available in Surrey-i. Where possible data for this Guildford and Waverley will include data for Chichester, but please check the individual dataset information.

These five cover a large majority of Surrey’s area and population but there are small parts of Surrey which are not included. These are:

Parent and Grandparent geography/regions

Parent geography: the area one level up in the geographical hierarchical structure. For example, the parent region of a ward is the Local Authority in which the ward sits, ie the parent geography for Esher ward is Elmbridge.

Grandparent geography: the area two levels up in the geographical hierarchical stucture. For example, the grandparent region of a ward is the County, ie the grandparent region for Esher ward would be Surrey.