Growth after 1900 slowed until the 1960s. The shoe industry declined and other employment was slow to arrive. In the 1920s and 30s, council houses were built in the east of the town at Headlands; north at St Davids; and south in Far Cotton. The Borough boundary, first extended in 1900, expanded again in 1932. From the 1920s until 1975 the town had its own power station supplying electricity to areas as far away as Wolverton.
Northampton was designated a New Town in 1968, and the Northampton Development Corporation (NDC) was set up to almost double the size of the town, with a population target of 230,000 by 1981, rising to 260,000 in later years. In 1959 the M1 motorway was opened nearby. Growth was slower than planned. The 1960s and 70s saw the town centre change with development of a new bus station, the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, flats and hotels.
The population grew to 100,000 by 1961, 130,000 by 1971 and 156,000 by 1981. When NDC wound up after 20 years, another 40,000 residents and 20,000 houses had been added. The borough boundaries changed in 1974 with the abolition of Northampton county borough and its reconstitution as a non-metropolitan district also covering areas outside the former borough boundaries but inside the designated New Town.
The rail link and busy M1 motorway to London helped the growth as a commuter town for London. Northampton's housing expansion was east with the 1970s eastern district estates built mainly for the London overflow population and more recently, in the west at Upton and south near M1 junction 15 at Grange Park, initially of 1,500 houses actually in South Northants Council area.
21st Century projections are that the district's population will grow to 226,400 by 2016 and to 261,300 by 2026. Northampton asked, unsuccessfully, for city status as a part of the 'millennium cities' scheme.The University of Northampton was established in 2005 after several years as a University College and before that being Nene College.
In 2006 Northampton became a government expansion zone with new growth by West Northamptonshire Development Corporation an unelected quango. Expansion began in 2007 at Upton and St Crispins spreading west towards junction 16 of the M1. The other major area is south-east of the town enveloping villages such as Little and Great Houghton, Quinton, Hackleton and Cogenhoe. Some expansion will be on brownfield sites such as Ransome Road, Far Cotton, an inner suburb, and in existing borough boundaries. This growth is hugely beneficial to the Northamptonshire shoe industry. Visit www.bradshawandlloyd.com to view the latest range of shoes from Loake shoes, Sanders shoes, Trickers shoes, Sebago shoes and Bradshaw and Lloyd shoes.