The controversial 1940s housing plan to triple the size of Leeds

It was a controversial housing plan aimed at tripling the size of Leeds.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 11:30 am
An aerial view of Adel Church in September 1946.
An aerial view of Adel Church in September 1946.

Pre-1945 the city of Leeds was far more parochial. There was the city, of course, with its long and proud heritage, but beyond that were numerous ‘satellite’ towns, which maintained their own services and fiercely guarded their independence.

Places like Morley, and Garforth did not come under the auspices of the centralised bureaucracy back then, nor did they want to.

Indeed a consultation was launched after the war by the Boundary Commission with a proposal that Leeds the city be drastically expanded from its 38,293 acres to a staggering 99,793 acres.

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The plan was a controversial one to say the least.

It had its roots in a housing plan for the city, which was passed unanimously in 1943 and which provided for the building of some 50,000 new homes, some 22,000 of which would have to be built beyond the city’s boundary.

The solution to that problem was to create three ‘satellite towns’ and for Leeds to assume control of them and the land in between (and some beyond also). The satellite towns would be eight to 10 miles from the city and would absorb around 100,000 Loiners.

The problem was that the Government of the day required Leeds to undertake the housing programme and the city, being loyal to its citizens, was loathe to hand over 100,000 of its taxpaying residents to another authority.

The controversial expansion plan, therefore, was deemed the only way forward, with an estimated price tag of £30 million.

However, the whole thing was put on hold when, in 1946, the Government announced it would soon introduce a New Towns Bill

Alderman Brett, then leader of the council, said in April 1946: “The whole thing is in the melting pot, we shall start afresh. Some of the terms of the Bill may have considerable effect on Leeds.”


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