Aerial view of Hastings
The University of Plymouth’s Centre for Coastal Communities (CfCC) has been funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to co-design, implement and make publicly available an evidence-based and policy-orientated classification of English coastal communities linked to suitably granular data. 
Collaborating with academic and policy stakeholders, including the Office of National Statistics, (ONS), this project will focus on analysing and classifying the economic, social, cultural, historical, and geographic characteristics of English coastal communities to highlight, understand and communicate more effectively their diverse research and policy needs. 

Get involved

It is important that everyone’s voices are heard. 
If you are interested in helping to design solutions to address challenges in the area where you live, please contact: 

We seek to address the following research questions

Research question 1

What do stakeholders, including from within these communities, identify as the key characteristics that describe and distinguish coastal communities from non-coastal communities and that differentiate between different types of coastal communities? 

Research question 2

How do neighbourhood, local and regional economic, social, cultural, historical, political and geographic characteristics interact in coastal communities, and does this differ from how they interact in non-coastal communities? 

Research question 3 

How do we incorporate an understanding of the clustering of 'significant characteristics' in different localities into a classification of coastal communities which supports applied actionable research and policy development.

Our aims

  1. Incorporate coastal stakeholder voices in the design of a policy-relevant and transparent approach to identifying, describing, and categorising coastal communities; 
  2. Collate, aggregate, and attribute a wide range of socio-economic and administrative data to units of analysis that are sufficiently granular to capture the diversity of coastal geographies; 
  3. Incorporate existing research and insights from stakeholders with our own analysis of leading/lagging coastal communities to identify policy-relevant modifiable drivers and mediating factors which explain variations in key outcomes within and between coastal areas; 
  4. Work with stakeholders to implement a robust methodology for classifying coastal communities which supports actionable research and policy development; and,
  5. Disseminate the classification and all underlying data on the characteristics of coastal communities to maximise future research and policy development.

How will this be achieved?

Work package one

Stakeholder engagement
Stakeholder engagement will be employed to help identify key variables that differentiate coastal from non-coastal places; advise on technical and methodological issues (such as clustering methodologies); and provide recommendations on how to make the classification relevant, useable, and updatable. 
Find out how you can get involved 

Work package two

The evidence base; collating, aggregating and attributing data for small areas
The project will collate, aggregate, and attribute a wide range of economic, social, demographic, and administrative data at small area level and, using a coastal 'flag'; carry out statistical analyses to explore (a) the distinctive attributes of, and challenges faced by, coastal communities and (b) the ways in which contextual factors affect socio-economic outcomes relating to health, education, social mobility, and wider components of deprivation. 

Work package three

Analysis of the characteristics of coastal communities
Reflecting stakeholder views on e.g., which clustering methodology using which data, whether to construct a single classification or multiple classifications addressing different domains etc., we will develop a classification of coastal communities, supported by a fully documented archive of all aggregated/attributed data and all code used in the creation of the classification. 

Work package four

Co-poroducing and disseminating a policy-relevant classification of coastal communities
We will hold a series of stakeholder workshops comprising 'how to' guidance and demonstrations for academics and policy stakeholders who are interested in using the classification in practice. 

An introduction to Co-Designing an English Coastal Classification and Data Portal Project