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In the United Kingdommarker and the Republic of Irelandmarker, an urban district was a type of local government district that covered an urbanised area. Urban districts had an elected Urban District Council (UDC), which shared local government responsibilities with a county council.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, urban districts and rural districts were created in 1894 (by the Local Government Act 1894) as subdivisions of administrative counties.

They replaced the earlier system of Urban and Rural sanitary districts (based on poor law unions) the functions of which were taken over by the district councils. The district councils also had wider powers over local matters such as parks, cemeteries and local planning. The defining difference between an urban district and a rural district was that an urban district usually contained a single parish, while a rural district may contain many. Urban districts were considered to have more problems with public health than rural areas, and so urban district councils had more funding, and powers than their corresponding rural districts.

Urban districts usually covered smaller towns, usually with populations of less than 30,000. Originally there were 1013 urban districts. Under the Local Government Act 1929 206 urban districts were abolished. Many were merged with surrounding rural districts, and so many urban districts often covered some rural areas as well. Larger towns became municipal boroughs (already created, in 1835 under the Municipal Reform Act 1835) which had a slightly higher status, and the right to appoint a mayor.

All urban districts in England and Wales were abolished in 1974, (by the Local Government Act 1972) and replaced with a uniform system of larger district, which usually covered both urban and rural areas. Many parish council were created for towns previously covered by urban districts.

See List of rural and urban districts in England in 1973 and List of rural and urban districts in Wales in 1973 for lists of the remaining urban districts that were abolished in 1974.


In Irelandmarker urban districts were created in 1898 by the Local Government Act 1898. In what is now the Republic of Irelandmarker they continued to exist but were renamed simply 'towns' under the Local Government Act 2001. (Rural districts were abolished in most counties in the Republic of Ireland in 1925)

In Northern Irelandmarker urban and rural districts were abolished in 1973, and replaced with a system of unitary districts.

See also: List of rural and urban districts in Northern Ireland


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