Key to food desert maps


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ORIENTATION of maps. North is always at the top of the map.


SCALE of maps. The maps are divided into grid squares of 250 metres by 250 metres (urban maps) or 500 metres x 500 metres (rural maps). See title of map on home page of the website for indication as to which scale has been used.


DATE of maps. The data for some maps was acquired within one year. This year is indicated on the title of the map on the home page of this website.


Where the map data was acquired over more than one year, the map areas acquired for any particular year are delineated by mauve/lilac lines, and each map area is labelled by the year the data was acquired, also in mauve/lilac.


SHOPS MAPPED. The following categories of land use and shops are indicated.

White squares. Non-residential. Farmland, parkland, playing fields, industrial, offices, hospitals, schools.

Orange squares. Residential, with no food store, no post office, no chemist.

Yellow squares. Residential, with at least one general grocery store also selling less than ten different kinds of fruit and vegetables. No other grocery provision.

Pale green squares. Residential, with at least one general grocery store also selling ten or more different kinds of fruit and vegetables. No supermarkets.

Dark green. Residential, with at least one supermarket.  For supermarket codes see supermarket code list


Link to supermarket code list


OTHER SHOPS are also mapped as these are important either for food provision or for the poor/elderly/disabled or otherwise disadvantaged persons/households liable to be affected by food deserts.

Bakers = small purple square, top left of grid square.

Butchers = small red square, top right of grid square.

Greengrocer (shop selling only fruit and vegetables, no general groceries) = small pale green square, centre of grid square.

Chemist = small pink square, bottom left of grid square.

Post Office = small black square, bottom right of grid square.

Chemists are important because many of those disadvantaged regarding access to food shops are elderly, disabled, poor, or caring for another. These shoppers are more likely to need access to pharmaceutical products and prescriptions than other shoppers.

Post Offices are important as many disadvantaged shoppers lack access to bank accounts and access their funds, e.g. pensions, benefits, via the Post Office. Access to cash is vital for those without a bank account and credit card, and lack of access to cash at some shopping parades may cause shoppers to avoid these shops. Some general grocery stores have cash points but these may charge a disproportionately high percentage of the amount withdrawn as a fee if small amounts of cash are requested this way. Because the poor are more likely to request these small amounts, they end up paying the highest percentage withdrawal commissions.


Where the grid square contains a general store selling ten or more kinds of fruit and vegetables, any greengrocers shops are not shown. Where the grid square contains a supermarket, no other shops are marked except Post Offices and chemists. This is because many of the foods offered at butchers or greengrocers will also be available at most supermarkets.


Where a small shopping centre straddles two squares, for sake of clarity the shops are all marked as being in the one square in which most of the centre is situated.


‘BARRIERS’. Particularly in urban areas, shops are not always equally accessible from all directions for persons on foot. Major roads present a considerable obstacle, or barrier, to those on foot, because crossing such roads in not easy for pedestrians. Pedestrian underpass crossings may be dangerous if street robbers are present. Mirrors to show if anyone is in the tunnel may have been obscured. In some cities, such as Leeds, West Yorkshire, underpass crossings have been filled in.

Pedestrian overbridge crossings involve a climb that may not be easy for some elderly or disabled persons, and accessing these by the ramps can considerably lengthen the journey to the shops, a major consideration for those elderly whose walking distance, particularly if laden with shopping, is limited.

Surface-level crossings generally involve negotiating multiple pedestrian lights. These are phased so that the pedestrian has to wait at each stage. If they were phased so as to give slow pedestrians the chance to cross the whole road in one go, there would be major traffic queues. However the need to wait several times makes crossings hard for e.g. mothers with children, and elderly persons may be exposed to adverse weather for longer.

Occasionally other features such as railways and rivers act as barriers, although in most cases, such features have crossing points if there are shops nearby, maintaining all round access to these shops.

For the food desert maps, any urban dual carriageway ‘A’ or ‘B’ road was taken to be a ‘barrier’; though not minor dual carriageway roads as found on some mid 20th century housing estates.

BARRIERS are linear features and are marked as black edges to the grid squares.


OTHER FEATURES. For orientation, selected place names are shown, and every fifth-kilometre national grid line is numbered. For rural areas, some major roads are marked.