Polycentricity of the Settlement System - Example of an Urban Network in Poland
Purpose: The article had two purposes. The first was to present the settlement structure in Poland with a special focus on cities, and the second was to compare the classification of cities in Poland as presented in planning documents at different levels with the classification of cities based on population in 2020. Design/Methodology/Approach: The characterisation of the settlement structure was based on an analysis of statistical data published by the Central Statistical Office on the number of settlement units and the population of cities. The statistics used represent the situation at the end of 2020. The planning documents were examined in terms of the urban classifications they contain. The research by T. Bocheński (2021) on cities performing the functions of regional and sub-regional centres was very helpful. Findings: The study confirms that Poland has a polycentric settlement network structure. It consisted of 43053 villages and 944 cities. Among the cities there were centres of various sizes and ranks, including metropolitan, regional, and subregional centres. The cities included centres of different sizes and ranks. The paper uses the division of cities into six classes of centres: metropolitan, supra-regional, regional, sub-regional, supra-local and local. Practical Implications: The research shows the polycentricity of the Polish settlement network. This type of settlement pattern is beneficial in the pursuit of sustainable national development. It has a positive impact on residents' access to services and reduces the need for transport. Originality/Value: The article presents the results of own desk research and analysis of official statistics. The paper analyses the settlement structure of Poland and classifies cities based on their population and their position in the settlement system. In addition, classifications of cities contained in planning documents at different levels are presented: European, national, and regional.