Non-metropolitan district

Non-metropolitan district
  • Also known as:
  • Shire district
English non-metropolitan districts 2021.svg
Category Local authority districts
Location England
Found in Non-metropolitan county
Created by Local Government Act 1972
  • 1 April 1974
Number 239 (as of 2021)
Possible types
Possible status

Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially "shire districts", are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties (colloquially shire counties) in a two-tier arrangement. Non-metropolitan districts with borough status are known as boroughs, able to appoint a mayor and refer to itself as a borough council.

Non-metropolitan districts

Non-metropolitan districts are subdivisions of English non-metropolitan counties which have a two-tier structure of local government.[1] Most non-metropolitan counties have a county council and several districts, each with a borough or district council. In these cases local government functions are divided between county and district councils, to the level where they can be practised most efficiently:

Service Non-metropolitan county Non-metropolitan district Unitary authority
Education checkY checkY
Housing checkY checkY
Planning applications checkY checkY
Strategic planning checkY checkY
Transport planning checkY checkY
Passenger transport checkY checkY
Highways checkY checkY
Fire checkY checkY
Social services checkY checkY
Libraries checkY checkY
Leisure and recreation checkY checkY
Waste collection checkY checkY
Waste disposal checkY checkY
Environmental health checkY checkY
Revenue collection checkY checkY


Many districts have borough status, which means the local council is called a borough council instead of district council and gives them the right to appoint a mayor. Borough status is granted by royal charter and, in many cases, continues a style enjoyed by a predecessor authority, which can date back centuries. Some districts such as Oxford or Exeter have city status, granted by letters patent, but this does not give the local council any extra powers other than the right to call itself a city council. Not all city or borough councils are non-metropolitan districts, many being unitary authorities – districts which are ceremonially part of a non-metropolitan county, but not run by the county council – or metropolitan districts – which are subdivisions of the metropolitan counties created in 1974, but whose county councils were abolished in 1986 and are effectively unitary authorities with similar powers.


By 1899, England had been divided at district level into rural districts, urban districts, municipal boroughs, county boroughs and metropolitan boroughs. This system was abolished by the London Government Act 1963 and the Local Government Act 1972. Non-metropolitan districts were created by this act in 1974 when England outside Greater London was divided into metropolitan counties and non-metropolitan counties. Metropolitan counties were sub-divided into metropolitan districts and the non-metropolitan counties were sub-divided into non-metropolitan districts. The metropolitan districts had more powers than their non-metropolitan counterparts. Initially, there were 296 non-metropolitan districts in the two-tier structure, but reforms in the 1990s and 2009 reduced their number to 192. A further 55 non-metropolitan districts are now unitary authorities, which combine the functions of county and borough/district councils.

Scotland and Wales

In Wales, an almost identical two-tier system of local government existed between 1974 and 1996 (see Districts of Wales). In 1996, this was abolished and replaced with an entirely unitary system of local government, with one level of local government responsible for all local services. Since the areas for Wales and England had been enacted separately and there were no Welsh metropolitan areas, the term 'non-metropolitan district' does not apply to Wales. A similar system existed in Scotland, which in 1975 was divided into regions and districts, this was also abolished in 1996 and replaced with a fully unitary system.

District Councils' Network

In England 200 out of the 201 non-metropolitan district councils are represented by the District Councils' Network,[2] special interest group which sits within the Local Government Association.[3] The network's purpose is to "act as an informed and representative advocate for districts to government and other national bodies, based on their unique position to deliver for β€˜local’ people.”

List of counties and districts

This is a list of two-tier non-metropolitan counties and their districts. All unitary authorities are non-metropolitan districts, which, with the exception of those of Berkshire, are coterminous with non-metropolitan counties.

For a full list of districts of all types including unitary authorities, metropolitan districts and London boroughs, see Districts of England.

Non-metropolitan county
(excluding unitary authorities)
Non-metropolitan districts
(excluding unitary authorities)
Cambridgeshire Cambridge – South Cambridgeshire – Huntingdonshire – Fenland – East Cambridgeshire 005
Cumbria Barrow-in-Furness – South Lakeland – Copeland – Allerdale – Eden – Carlisle 006
Derbyshire High Peak – Derbyshire Dales – South Derbyshire – Erewash – Amber Valley – North East Derbyshire – Chesterfield – Bolsover 008
Devon Exeter – East Devon – Mid Devon – North Devon – Torridge – West Devon – South Hams – Teignbridge 008
East Sussex Hastings – Rother – Wealden – Eastbourne – Lewes 005
Essex Harlow – Epping Forest – Brentwood – Basildon – Castle Point – Rochford – Maldon – Chelmsford – Uttlesford – Braintree – Colchester – Tendring 012
Gloucestershire Gloucester – Tewkesbury – Cheltenham – Cotswold – Stroud – Forest of Dean 006
Hampshire Gosport – Fareham – Winchester – Havant – East Hampshire – Hart – Rushmoor – Basingstoke and Deane – Test Valley – Eastleigh – New Forest 011
Hertfordshire Three Rivers – Watford – Hertsmere – Welwyn Hatfield – Broxbourne – East Hertfordshire – Stevenage – North Hertfordshire – St Albans – Dacorum 010
Kent Dartford – Gravesham – Sevenoaks – Tonbridge and Malling – Tunbridge Wells – Maidstone – Swale – Ashford – Folkestone and Hythe – Canterbury – Dover – Thanet 012
Lancashire West Lancashire – Chorley – South Ribble – Fylde – Preston – Wyre – Lancaster – Ribble Valley – Pendle – Burnley – Rossendale – Hyndburn 012
Leicestershire Charnwood – Melton – Harborough – Oadby and Wigston – Blaby – Hinckley and Bosworth – North West Leicestershire 007
Lincolnshire Lincoln – North Kesteven – South Kesteven – South Holland – Boston – East Lindsey – West Lindsey 007
Norfolk Norwich – South Norfolk – Great Yarmouth – Broadland – North Norfolk – King's Lynn and West Norfolk – Breckland 007
North Yorkshire Selby – Harrogate – Craven – Richmondshire – Hambleton – Ryedale – Scarborough 007
Nottinghamshire Rushcliffe – Broxtowe – Ashfield – Gedling – Newark and Sherwood – Mansfield – Bassetlaw 007
Oxfordshire Oxford – Cherwell – South Oxfordshire – Vale of White Horse – West Oxfordshire 005
Somerset South Somerset – Somerset West and Taunton – Sedgemoor – Mendip 004
Staffordshire Tamworth – Lichfield – Cannock Chase – South Staffordshire – Stafford – Newcastle-under-Lyme – Staffordshire Moorlands – East Staffordshire 008
Suffolk Ipswich – Babergh – East Suffolk – Mid Suffolk – West Suffolk 005
Surrey Spelthorne – Runnymede – Surrey Heath – Woking – Elmbridge – Guildford – Waverley – Mole Valley – Epsom and Ewell – Reigate and Banstead – Tandridge 011
Warwickshire North Warwickshire – Nuneaton and Bedworth – Rugby – Stratford-on-Avon – Warwick 005
West Sussex Worthing – Arun – Chichester – Horsham – Crawley – Mid Sussex – Adur 007
Worcestershire Worcester – Malvern Hills – Wyre Forest – Bromsgrove – Redditch – Wychavon 006
Total 181

List of abolished non-metropolitan districts

This is a list of former two-tier districts in England which have been abolished, by local government reorganisations such as the 2009 structural changes to local government in England. It does not include districts that still exist after becoming a unitary authority or those that transferred from one county to another, including those that changed name. Nor does it include unitary authorities that have been abolished (Bournemouth and Poole).

Non-metropolitan county (at time of abolition) Abolished non-metropolitan districts Number
Avon Bath – Kingswood – Northavon – Wansdyke 04
Bedfordshire Mid Bedfordshire – South Bedfordshire 02
Buckinghamshire South Bucks – Chiltern – Wycombe – Aylesbury Vale 04
Cheshire Chester – Congleton – Crewe and Nantwich – Ellesmere Port and Neston – Macclesfield – Vale Royal 06
Cornwall Caradon – Carrick – Kerrier – North Cornwall – Penwith – Restormel 06
Dorset Weymouth and Portland – West Dorset – North Dorset – Purbeck – East Dorset – Christchurch 06
Durham Durham – Easington – Sedgefield – Chester-le-Street – Derwentside – Wear Valley – Teesdale 07
East Sussex Brighton – Hove 02
Hereford and Worcester Hereford – Leominster – South Herefordshire 03
Humberside Beverley – Boothferry – Cleethorpes – East Yorkshire – Glanford – Great Grimsby – Holderness – Scunthorpe 08
Isle of Wight Medina – South Wight 02
Kent Gillingham – Rochester-upon-Medway 02
Northamptonshire South Northamptonshire – Northampton – Daventry – Wellingborough – Kettering – Corby – East Northamptonshire 07
Northumberland Blyth Valley – Wansbeck – Castle Morpeth – Tynedale – Alnwick – Berwick-upon-Tweed 06
Shropshire Bridgnorth – North Shropshire – Oswestry – Shrewsbury and Atcham – South Shropshire 05
Somerset Taunton Deane – West Somerset 02
Suffolk Forest Heath – St Edmundsbury – Suffolk Coastal – Waveney 04
Wiltshire Kennet – North Wiltshire – Salisbury – West Wiltshire 04
Total 80

See also


  1. ^ National Statistics – Counties, Non-metropolitan Districts and Unitary Authorities Archived 9 May 2002 at the UK Government Web Archive
  2. ^ "Members | District Councils' Network". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Special interest groups | Local Government Association". Government of the United Kingdom. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.

External links