‘Mark Two’ New Town – Designated 9 October 1961

Skelmersdale was the forerunner of the ‘Mark Two’ New Towns and the first in the North West. Formerly a small mining town, it was designated as a New Town to accommodate some of the rapidly expanding population of Liverpool and wider Merseyside. Today, it is the largest and most densely populated settlement in the West Lancashire Borough and is adjoined to the east by the more traditional settlement of Up Holland. It has clearly defined industrial and residential areas and a significant green space network resulting from its New Town status. Some of the New Town estates and the town centre have not stood the test of time. A programme of town centre renewal, urban extensions and a new rail link are planned to regenerate the town.

Key facts:

  • Location: 21 kilometres north east of Liverpool, 26 kilometres north west of Manchester. It is the second-largest town in the North West without a railway station, but Preston, Liverpool and Manchester are all within a 30-minute drive time.
  • 2011 Census population: 40,710, in 16,769 households (6,175 of which, in 2,597 households, are in adjoining Up Holland).
  • Local authority: West Lancashire Borough Council.
  • Local Plan status: West Lancashire Local Plan 2012-2027 (adopted 2013).

New Town designation:

  • Designated: 9 October 1961.
  • Designated area: 1,630 hectares, revised to 1,670 hectares.
  • Intended population: 80,000, later reduced to 61,000 (population at designation: 8,500).
  • Development Corporation: The ‘Basic Plan’ adopted in 1966 was based on a need to plan for the car; integrated industrial and residential sites; Green Belt and a clear limit to development to avoid sprawl; a well balanced population; and a staged development approach with a full range of facilities provided at each stage. Development Corporation wound up 31 March 1985.

Figures taken from Skelmersdale ‘5 minute’ fact sheet – TCPA New Towns and Garden Cities, Lessons for Tomorrow research, available here.

Council website:

Information about regeneration:

Local museums and archives:

Glassball Skemersdale A New Town:

Lancashire County Council Archives:

Skelmersdale at 50:

Updated: 1st April, 2020