Most populated districts in Yorkshire

The local authority areas with the highest number of residents


Around one-tenth of the 56 million population of England lives in Yorkshire.

The UK population is around 67 million and there are as many people living in Yorkshire as in the whole of Scotland.

Here is how the Yorkshire population is distributed across its very large district authority areas.

Since the early 1970s there have been several sweeping changes to local government structure in Yorkshire, but since that time all the region has been organised into district super-authorities of one form or another.

In West Yorkshire there are five metropolitan districts, in South Yorkshire there are four metropolitan districts, in North Yorkshire there are seven districts, known as shire districts as there is also a county authority, and there are five unitary authorities for the East Riding of Yorkshire, City of Hull, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and City of York.

Nearly all these district authorities cover a vast area, including several towns and villages in addition to the principal city or major town.

Metropolitan districts in Yorkshire typically cover three times the area of those in other parts of the country, while some of the shire districts of the county of North Yorkshire are themselves as large as counties in some other parts of the country.

Various changes since the 1970s have also left Yorkshire people in parts of three other unitary authorities, three shire districts and a metropolitan district which now straddle the boundary of our historic county and these are not included in this list.

Previously we have shown the population based on data of the most recent 2011 Census, but as that is now nearly 10 years ago, we have now based the figures on population projections for 2020 as calculated by the Office for National Statistics in 2018. We still show the 2011 Census figure in brackets. We hope to soon be able to update figures further with results from the 2021 census when available.

Changes in position resulting from these updated statistics are Wakefield metropolitan district of West Yorkshire moving into fifth place above the East Riding of Yorkshire; the City of York authority area moving to 11th population-size position above Calderdale metropolitan district of West Yorkshire; and in North Yorkshire, Richmondshire moving below Rydale district to become the most sparsely-populated district of Yorkshire.

Here, in order, are the highest district local authority populations in Yorkshire:


Metropolitan district
West Yorkshire

795,565 * (751,500)

Unsurprisingly, the city of Leeds and the other towns and villages which make up its metropolitan district occupy the top spot in this table.

Less well-known is that Leeds district accounts for only around one-third of the population of the West Yorkshire conurbation, where Leeds occupies the north-east corner.

However, the metropolitan district has around 13% of the population of the whole of Yorkshire.

Continuing city expansion has seen Leeds merge itself into neighbouring established towns and villages within the metropolitan district, bringing concerns about the effects on their trade, vacant office space and increasing traffic congestion on routes into the city centre. The district does however retain an extensive agricultural area, particularly to its north-east, and distinct towns including Otley, Wetherby and Morley.

Includes: Aberford Barwick in Elmet Boston Spa Calverley Garforth Guiseley Horsforth Leeds Micklefield Morley Otley Pudsey Rothwell Wetherby Yeadon

More places in  LEEDS metropolitan district of West Yorkshire.


Metropolitan district
South Yorkshire

589,710 * (552,700)

Sheffield metropolitan district occupies the south-west corner of South Yorkshire and is unusual among the modern metropolitan districts of Yorkshire as somewhere where a sprawling and expansive industrial city grew very quickly from very few small villages and hamlets. This compares with areas where other cities emerged through slower growth as the largest among several long-established market towns in their area.

In the Sheffield metropolitan district, the only notable towns distinct from the city's suburban sprawl are Stocksbridge and Chapeltown.

Away from the urban area, a substantial western part of the Sheffield metropolitan district is countryside and moorland lying within the Peak District National Park in which there are widely-spread and sparsely-populated small villages and hamlets.

The district has boundaries with two of the other three South Yorkshire districts: Rotherham metropolitan district to the east and Barnsley metropolitan district to the north, both of which contain many characteristic towns and villages.

Includes Bolderstone Deepcar Sheffield Stannington Stocksbridge Worrall

More places in  SHEFFIELD metropolitan district of South Yorkshire.


Metropolitan district
West Yorkshire

540909 * (522,500)

Bradford metropolitan district is the second-largest of the five metropolitan districts of West Yorkshire with just under a quarter of its population.

The district population is near equal to that of South Yorkshire's largest metropolitan district, Sheffield.

In addition to Bradford, the district also includes several other towns, the largest being Keighley, and many villages.

The population is approximately double that of the average Greater London borough.

Includes Addingham Baildon Bingley Burley in Wharfedale Bradford Denholme Haworth Idle Ilkley Keighley Oxenhope Queensbury Saltaire Shipley Silsden

More places in  BRADFORD metropolitan district of West Yorkshire.


Metropolitan district
West Yorkshire

441,772 * (422,500)

In addition to the three Yorkshire districts above, only three other English metropolitan districts have a higher population than Kirklees, those being Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

Huddersfield is the administrative centre and its vast hinterland which packs 100 distinct villages, small towns and hamlets into an agricultural then Peak District moorland landscape in the southern part of the district gives it a unique character in the way it places a large population into an area with high landscape value.

Dewsbury is the second largest town and one of several towns in the northern part of the district, an area many had wanted to become a sixth district when the five super-authorities of West Yorkshire were formed in local government reorganisation of 1974.

Kirklees has around one-fifth of the population of the five metropolitan districts of West Yorkshire.

The population of Kirklees is around two-thirds higher than the average Greater London borough.

Includes Batley Birkenshaw Birstall Clayton West Cleckheaton Denby Dale Dewsbury Emley Golcar Gomersal Grange Moor Heckmondwike Holme Holmfirth Huddersfield Kirkburton Linthwaite Liversedge Marsden Meltham Mirfield Netherton Scissett Shelley Shepley Skelmanthorpe Slaithwaite

More places in  KIRKLEES metropolitan district of West Yorkshire.


Metropolitan district
West Yorkshire

352,983 * (325,800)

The City of Wakefield, county town of the West Riding and West Yorkshire, also gained a large hinterland, including some sizeable towns, during local government reorganisation in 1974.

Wakefield district accounts for around 15% of the population of West Yorkshire.

The population of Wakefield district is about 28% higher than the average Greater London borough.

Includes Ackworth Badsworth Castleford Crofton Featherstone Hemsworth Knottingley Moorthorpe Normanton Ossett Pontefract South Elmsall South Kirkby Wakefield

More places in  WAKEFIELD metropolitan district of West Yorkshire.


East Riding of Yorkshire
Unitary authority

342,195 * (334,200)

As a mostly rural area, the 'bread basket of Yorkshire' has possibly a surprising position in this list.

It is, however, a vast area and the bulk of what was once a county authority as the original East Riding of Yorkshire. The current unitary authority is only the City of Hull and a few boundary adjustments short of being the original historic Riding. While the population is widely spread there are several towns, including the county town of Beverley, seaside resorts including Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea, the port of Goole, and towns on the outskirts of Hull, including Hessle and Hedon.

Includes: Aldbrough Atwick Brandesburton Beverley Bridlington Driffield Easington East Cowick Flamborough Garton Garton-on-the-Wolds Goole Hedon Hessle Holme-on-Spalding-Moor Howden Hornsea Mappleton Middleton-on-the-Wolds Patrington Pocklington Roos Snaith South Cave Spurn Head North Cave West Cowick Wetwang Withernsea

More places in  EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE unitary authority area.


Metropolitan district
South Yorkshire

313,762 * (302,400)

The large town of Doncaster and its metropolitan district of many surrounding towns and villages is South Yorkshire's second biggest centre of population after its next-but-one neighbour Sheffield.

Doncaster district has just under a quarter of the population of the four metropolitan districts of South Yorkshire.

The population of Doncaster district is about 18% more than the average Greater London borough.

Includes Adwick le Street Bawtry Bentley Brodsworth Conisbrough Doncaster Hatfield Mexborough Stainforth Thorne Tickhill

More places in  DONCASTER metropolitan district of South Yorkshire.

  8  Rotherham Metropolitan district South Yorkshire 267,215 * (257,300)

  9  Kingston upon Hull Unitary authority 261,184 * (256,400)

 10  Barnsley Metropolitan district South Yorkshire 248,707 * (231,200)

 11  York Unitary authority 211,099 * (198,000)

 12  Calderdale Metropolitan district West Yorkshire 210,958 * (203,800)

 13  Harrogate Shire district North Yorkshire 160,644 * (157,900)

 14  Middlesbrough Unitary authority 140,123 * (138,400)

 15  Redcar & Cleveland Unitary authority 137,879 * (135,200)

 16  Scarborough Shire district North Yorkshire 109,422 * (108,800)

 17  Hambleton Shire district North Yorkshire 91,480 * (89,100)

 18  Selby Shire district North Yorkshire 91,149 * (83,500)

 19  Craven Shire district North Yorkshire 57,173 * (55,400)

 21  Ryedale Shire district North Yorkshire 55,846 * (51,700)

 20  Richmondshire Shire district North Yorkshire 53,189 * (52,000)

* Figures based on ONS 2018-calculated projections for 2020 (2011 Census data in brackets).
Contains public sector information licensed under the  Open Government Licence v3.0.

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