Tyne and Wear

‘Mark Two’ New Town – Designated 24 July 1964

Faced with the post-war decline of the traditional industries of coal-mining and shipbuilding, with knock-on effects in dependent steel and heavy engineering industries, in 1961 Durham County Council proposed a Designation Order under the 1946 New Towns Act to develop Washington as the region’s third New Town, to reverse decline and provide economic and social renewal. In 1963 a Government White Paper proposed that Washington should be developed ‘to stimulate faster progress in raising the scale and quality of the region’s urban development generally’. Today, Washington has the second-largest population of the Sunderland conurbation sub-areas (approximately 20% of the total population). Developed as a series of villages, it is interspersed with modern employment areas and has proved attractive to businesses and residents alike.

Key facts:

  • Location: 10 kilometres south of Newcastle, 5 kilometres west of Sunderland.
  • 2011 Census population: 55,196, in 23,517 households.
  • Local authority: Sunderland City Council.
  • Local Plan status: Saved policies from City of Sunderland UDP (1998). New Core Strategy and Development Plan is due to be adopted in 2019.

New Town designation:

  • Designated: 24 July 1964.
  • Designated area: 2,145 hectares, revised to 2,261 hectares.
  • Intended population: 70,000-80,000 (population at designation: 20,000).
  • Development Corporation: Designated to boost the region’s economic fortunes and improve housing conditions. The masterplan aimed to set new standards of urban development in the region and contribute to lasting prosperity. Unlike some New Towns, the aim was not to create a new focus but to provide interconnecting links between villages which were to be revitalised rather than abandoned. It was unique among contemporary plans in recognising the new factors of rising standards of living and car ownership, and their effect on urban living. Development Corporation wound up 31 March 1988.

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

Council website:


Information about regeneration:


Washington is 50:


Photo Credit: Sunderland City Council