Non-metropolitan district
  • Also known as:
  • Shire district
CategoryLocal authority districts
Found inNon-metropolitan county
Created byLocal Government Act 1972
  • 1 April 1974
Number226 (as of 2023)
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.

Typically a district will consist of a market town and its more rural hinterland. However districts are diverse with some being mostly urban such as Dartford, and others more polycentric such as Thurrock.


Non-metropolitan districts are subdivisions of English non-metropolitan counties which have a two-tier structure of local government.[1] Two-tier 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.


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 most of the 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 local people."

List of counties and districts

This is a list of two-tier non-metropolitan counties and their districts. All unitary authorities are also 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 CambridgeSouth CambridgeshireHuntingdonshireFenlandEast Cambridgeshire 005
Derbyshire High PeakDerbyshire DalesSouth DerbyshireErewashAmber ValleyNorth East DerbyshireChesterfieldBolsover 008
Devon ExeterEast DevonMid DevonNorth DevonTorridgeWest DevonSouth HamsTeignbridge 008
East Sussex HastingsRotherWealdenEastbourneLewes 005
Essex HarlowEpping ForestBrentwoodBasildonCastle PointRochfordMaldonChelmsfordUttlesfordBraintreeColchesterTendring 012
Gloucestershire GloucesterTewkesburyCheltenhamCotswoldStroudForest of Dean 006
Hampshire GosportFarehamWinchesterHavantEast HampshireHartRushmoorBasingstoke and DeaneTest ValleyEastleighNew Forest 011
Hertfordshire Three RiversWatfordHertsmereWelwyn HatfieldBroxbourneEast HertfordshireStevenageNorth HertfordshireSt AlbansDacorum 010
Kent DartfordGraveshamSevenoaksTonbridge and MallingTunbridge WellsMaidstoneSwaleAshfordFolkestone and HytheCanterburyDoverThanet 012
Lancashire West LancashireChorleySouth RibbleFyldePrestonWyreLancasterRibble ValleyPendleBurnleyRossendaleHyndburn 012
Leicestershire CharnwoodMeltonHarboroughOadby and WigstonBlabyHinckley and BosworthNorth West Leicestershire 007
Lincolnshire LincolnNorth KestevenSouth KestevenSouth HollandBostonEast LindseyWest Lindsey 007
Norfolk NorwichSouth NorfolkGreat YarmouthBroadlandNorth NorfolkKing's Lynn and West NorfolkBreckland 007
Nottinghamshire RushcliffeBroxtoweAshfieldGedlingNewark and SherwoodMansfieldBassetlaw 007
Oxfordshire OxfordCherwellSouth OxfordshireVale of White HorseWest Oxfordshire 005
Staffordshire TamworthLichfieldCannock ChaseSouth StaffordshireStaffordNewcastle-under-LymeStaffordshire MoorlandsEast Staffordshire 008
Suffolk IpswichBaberghEast SuffolkMid SuffolkWest Suffolk 005
Surrey SpelthorneRunnymedeSurrey HeathWokingElmbridgeGuildfordWaverleyMole ValleyEpsom and EwellReigate and BansteadTandridge 011
Warwickshire North WarwickshireNuneaton and BedworthRugbyStratford-on-AvonWarwick 005
West Sussex WorthingArunChichesterHorshamCrawleyMid SussexAdur 007
Worcestershire WorcesterMalvern HillsWyre ForestBromsgroveRedditchWychavon 006
Total 164

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 two-tier non-metropolitan districts Number
Avon BathKingswoodNorthavonWansdyke 04
Bedfordshire Mid BedfordshireSouth Bedfordshire 02
Buckinghamshire South BucksChilternWycombeAylesbury Vale 04
Cheshire ChesterCongletonCrewe and NantwichEllesmere Port and NestonMacclesfieldVale Royal 06
Cornwall CaradonCarrickKerrierNorth CornwallPenwithRestormel 06
Cumbria Barrow-in-FurnessSouth LakelandCopelandAllerdaleEdenCarlisle 06
Dorset Weymouth and PortlandWest DorsetNorth DorsetPurbeckEast DorsetChristchurch 06
Durham DurhamEasingtonSedgefieldChester-le-StreetDerwentsideWear ValleyTeesdale 07
East Sussex BrightonHove 02
Hereford and Worcester HerefordLeominsterSouth Herefordshire 03
Humberside East Yorkshire Borough of BeverleyBoothferryCleethorpesEast YorkshireGlanfordGreat GrimsbyHoldernessScunthorpe 08
Isle of Wight MedinaSouth Wight 02
Kent GillinghamRochester-upon-Medway 02
Northamptonshire South NorthamptonshireNorthamptonDaventryWellingboroughKetteringCorbyEast Northamptonshire 07
North Yorkshire York[a]SelbyHarrogateCravenRichmondshireHambletonRyedaleScarborough 08
Northumberland Blyth ValleyWansbeckCastle MorpethTynedaleAlnwickBerwick-upon-Tweed 06
Shropshire BridgnorthNorth ShropshireOswestryShrewsbury and AtchamSouth Shropshire 05
Somerset Taunton DeaneWest SomersetSouth SomersetSomerset West and TauntonSedgemoorMendip 06
Suffolk Forest HeathSt EdmundsburySuffolk CoastalWaveney 04
Wiltshire KennetNorth WiltshireSalisburyWest Wiltshire 04
Total 98

See also


  1. ^ the district was abolished in 1996 and merged to form a larger York unitary district


  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.