The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
Letter from Jil Matheson, Census Demography and Regional Statistics, to Lord Howell dated 30 April 2007, replying in the absence of the National Statistician.
There is no standard definition of “towns” and “villages” and so I am unable to provide a figure to answer your specific question.
You may, however, find it helpful to know that at the time of the last census in 2001, a total of 12,896,487 people lived in urban areas in England and Wales near the coastline. This represents 24.78 per cent of the total resident population (52,041,916).
For the purposes of this Question we have applied the definition of “urban areas” used in the census. This includes major urban agglomerations, cities and smaller towns defined in terms of their physical extent rather than by administrative boundaries. The “coast” (as defined by Ordnance Survey) includes tidal estuaries and rivers and so the figure includes people living in some urban areas that might more usually be regarded as being inland. The definition of “near the coastline” we have used is those “urban areas” whose boundaries fell wholly or partially within 500 metres of the “coast (mean high water)”.
If you wish to discuss this further the contact within ONS on this topic is Alistair Calder, ONS Geography, tel: 01329 813562 e-mail: Alistair.Calder @ons.gsi.gov.uk.