What is a catchment area?
Collins English Dictionary gives us two meanings of the term ‘catchment area’. The first describes it as an ‘area of land bounded by watersheds draining into a river, basin or reservoir.’ The second is more familiar to us: ‘the area from which people are allocated to a particular school, hospital’ etc.
The one word that many people associate with the term ‘catchment area’ is schools. The reason for this is the stories we have heard regarding people who have gone to great lengths to make sure their child gets into a school in a catchment area they do not live in.
However, the term catchment area can mean different things to different people when they are looking to move into a new area.
Let us start with schools…
With the ever-increasing pressure on children to do well at school, obtaining a good education is becoming more important. So, when people with young families are thinking of moving, one of the most important things they will look for is the quality of the local schools.
Many families will know of a high-performing school they wish their child or children to attend, and will aim to move into the catchment area their school of choice falls into. For people with young children, the catchment area they will be looking for is one with high-quality schools. However, other people looking to move will require a catchment area with different amenities.
Another sign of the times we are living in is the reality of an ageing population. An older couple, who are approaching retirement and are looking to downsize, will not be concerned about the schools in an area they are looking to move into. They will be more concerned about what doctors’ surgeries fall into the catchment area of their chosen destination, and the proximity of shops and restaurants in the event they have to give up driving and rely on public transport.
Another group of people who will be concerned about the doctor’s surgeries in a catchment area are those families who have a relative suffering with a long-term medical problem. However, there will be other demands they will expect from a catchment area. They will also want proximity to good hospitals, local shops, and other amenities.
So the term catchment area can mean many things to different people. Families with young children will be concerned about the quality of schools, while elderly people and those with medical problems will be looking for what surgeries and hospitals fall into catchment areas. Others with concerns about security and safety may want to know if the catchment area includes a police station.