Satellite Towns


‘ Satellite town’ was a term used in the year immediately after the World War I as an alternative to Garden City. It subsequently developed a much wider meaning to include any town that is closely related to or dependent on a larger city. The f irst specific usage of the word ‘ satellite town’ was in 1915 by G. R. Taylor in ‘ Satellite Cities’ referring to towns around Chicago, St. Louis and other American cities where industries had escaped congestion and crafted manufacturer’ s town in the surrounding area. The new town is planned and built to serve a particular local industry, or as a dormitory or overspill town for people who work in and nearby metropolis.

Satellite Town, can also be defined as a town which is self contained and l imited in s ize, built in the vicinity of a large town or city and houses and employs those who otherwise create a demand for expansion of the existing settlement, but dependent on the parent city to some extent for population and major services. A distinction is made between a consumer satellite ( essentially a dormitory suburb with few facilities) and a production satellite ( with a capacity for commercial, industrial and other production distinct from that of the parent town, so a new town) town or satellite city i s a concept of urban planning and referring to a small or medium- sized city that i s near a large metropolis, but predates that metropolis suburban expansion and i s atleast partially independent from that metropolis economically.

Satellite and Dormitory Towns

The suburb of an urban centre where due to locational advantage the residential, industrial and educational centres are developed are known as ” satellite or dormitory towns.” It has a benefit of providing clean environment and spacious ground for residential and industrial expansion. Sometimes satellite towns are regarded as reserve of labour pool, poultry farms, dairy farms, nursery centres and grain- collecting centres from rural areas but located closer to the town.

Dormitory towns may be tourist places, recreational centres, health resorts, bathing places, administrative centres and religious places of historical or archaeological importance.

The satellite and dormitory towns are prolific especially in American cities. The American census s ince 1910 have identified 140 metropolitan districts having satellite towns. The study of satellite urban settlements has been considered as essential elements of urban hierarchy for efficient administration, municipal services and safety. The satellite urban centre i s considered as essential especially in fertile plain besides saving t ime in movement from housing colonies to the place of work in the market centre, industries and government offices.

Generally, in satellite and dormitory towns either r ich or poor people resides because due to cheaper land i t i s easy to f ind a housing site in satellite town in relation to the congested city centre. In this regard, the satellite towns are considered as the reserve of industrial labourers or the paradise of the urban poor as well as the r ich businessmen in disguise.

Dormitory or satellite urban settlement is a secondary settlement which maintains a closer l ink with the main urban centre of which i t is a part. Satellite town may be created temporarily to solve a particular purpose or i t may be built permanently. Sometimes satellite town presents a look of twin- town such as Dehri and Dalmianagar in Rohtas district of Bihar. They may be connected with overbridges as Mokameh and Barauni, Patna and Hajipur, Varanasi and Moghalsarai across the Ganges r iver.

Having excess population more into satellite and dormitory towns i s not merely a process of historical interest, but this can be witnessed even today. This process i s still a priority for solving the problems of over population and over concentration in metropolitan areas. These days most of the posh hotels of Delhi such as ‘ South City’, the Heritage City’ and ‘ The Lake View’ of Lucknow and ‘ Devlok’ of Mecruth are good examples of dormitory towns. In some cases the process of deurbanisation may be the solution for the satellite and dormitory towns as this process could be observed in Australia, Netherlands and France.

Characteristics of Satellite Towns

  1. .The central core or area contains only those economic functions whose specialized character requires central location, particularly managerial, f inancial, specialised wholeselling and related, cultural, social and educational functions; specialised professional and technical services, and transportation terminals and the services of functions necessary to maintain these. The core area i s surrounded by residential areas needed to provide employees for central functioning.
  2.  Satellite towns contain most manufacturing functions and these specialized functions for the metropolitan area do not require central location. Each satellite provides retail stores offering all general merchandise l ines except specialised l ines.
  3.  It accommodates most of i ts own employees in residential locations reasonably close to places of work, draws on other satellites for a small proportion of i ts workers, and provides some labour for specialised employment in other nearby satellites.
  4. .The size of satellite varies depending upon i ts economic functions.
  5.  The density of satellite conforms to the preference of the population.
  6.  The spacing of satellites, in generally, radial pattern around the core city, is such that minimum i s required to preserve the identity of each, and to permit reasonably rapid daily commuting between satellites and the central city on the part of those required to commute.

Distribution of Satellite Towns

  • Gawler, ( Adelaide)
  • Gold Coast ( Brisbane)
  • Gosford ( Sydney)
  • Melton ( Melbourne)
  • Sunbury, Victoria ( Melbourne)
  • Mandurah ( Perth)
  • Moe, Victoria, Morwell, Victoria and Traralgon, Victoria ( satellites of each other together forming the Latrobe City urban area)
  • Palmerston ( Darwin)
  • Queanbeyan ( Canberra)
  • Redcliffe City ( Brisbane)
  • Sunshine Coast, Queensland ( Brisbane)
  • Werribee, ( Melbourne)
  • Wodonga ( Albury)
  • Wollongong ( Sydney)
  • Saint- Jean- sur- Richelieu
  • Saint- Hyacinthe
  • Sorel- Tracy
  • Salaberry- de- Valleyfield ( satellite)
  • Hamilton, Ontario, Guelph, Oshawa, Barrie, Stratford. ( Toronto)
  • Abbotsford, British Columbia ( Vancouver)
  • Beibei ( Chongqing)
  • Songjiang ( Shanghai)
  • J iading ( Shanghai)
Hong Kong SAR
  • Tai Po
  • Tuen Mun
  • Ap Lei Chau ( satellite of Hong Kong and Kowloon)
Bangladesh .
  • Uttara Thana
  • Motiijheel
  • Kawran Bazar
  • Gulshan Thana ( Dhaka)
  • 6 th of October City ( Cairo)
  • Shahinshahr ( Isfahan)
  • Nagrota ( J & K),
  • Phagwara ( Punjab),
  • Mohali, Panchkula ( Chandigarh),
  • Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida ( Delhi),
  • Danapur, Shamshabad ( Hyderabad)
  • Haldia, Durgapur, Chittaranjan, Khargapur, Haringhata, Navi Mumbai ( Mumbai)
  • Petaling Jaya ( Kuala Lumpur)
  • Seremban ( Klang Valley)
  • Ciudad Satélite
  • Playas de Rosarito, ( Tijuana)
  • San Cristóbal Ecatepec
  • San Luis Rio Colorado( Mexicali)
New Zealand
  • Rangiora, ( Christchurch)
  • North Nazimabad ( Karachi)
  • Police ( Szczecin)
  • Woomin ( Warsaw)
  • Legionowo ( Warsaw)
  • Otwock ( satellite of Warsaw)
  • Wieliczka ( satellite of Kraków)

Kingdom,       .

( London)

  • Bradford ( satellite of Leeds)
  • Bromsgrove ( satellite of Birmingham)
  • Lisburn ( Belfast)
  • Preston ( Liverpool)
  • Salford ( Manchester)
United States
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan ( satellite of Detroit)
  • Annapolis, Maryland ( satellite

of Baltimore and Washington, D. C.)

  • Athens, Georgia ( satellite of Atlanta)
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey ( satellite of Philadelphia)
  • Aurora, I l l inois ( satellite of Chicago)
  • Bellevue, Washington ( satellite of Seattle)
  • Boulder, Colorado ( satellite of Denver)
  • Chester, Pennsylvania ( satellite of Philadelphia)
  • Everett, Washington ( satellite of Seattle)
  • Greensburg, Pennsylvania ( satellite of Pittsburgh)
  • Independence, Missouri ( satellite of Kansas City)
  • Manchester, New Hampshire ( satellite of Boston)
  • Oxnard, California ( satellite of Los Angeles)
  • Santa Cruz, California ( satellite of San Francisco)
  • Trenton, New Jersey (satellite of New York City and Philadelphia)
  • Vallejo, California ( satellite of San Francisco)
  • Vancouver, Washington ( satellite of Portland, Oregon)
  • Westchester, New York, New York ( satellite of New York City)
  • Wilmington, Delaware ( satellite of Philadelphia)
  • Worcester, Massachusetts ( satellite of Boston)

Satellite Cities Versus Other Types of Settlement


Satellite cities differ from suburbs in that they have distinct employment basis, commuter shed, and cultural offerings from the central metropolis, as well as an independent municipal government.

They differ from suburbs, subdivisions and especially bedroom communities, edge cities in that they have municipal governments distinct from that of the core metropolis and employment basis sufficient to support their residential populations.

Suburb mostly refers to a residential area. They may be the residential areas of a city ( such as in Australia and New Zealand), or separate residential communities within commuting distance of a city ( such as in the United States and Canada). Some suburbs have a degree of political autonomy, and most have lower population density than inner city neighborhoods. Suburbs grew in the 19 th and 20 th century as a result of improved rail and later road transport and an increase in commuting. Suburbs tend to proliferate around cities that have an abundance of adjacent f lat land.

Edge City

Edge city is an American term for a concentration of business, shopping, and entertainment outside a traditional urban area in what had recently been a residential suburb or semi- rural community. The term was popularised in the 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier by Joel Garreau, who established i ts current meaning while working as a reporter for the Washington Post . Garreau argues that the edge city has become the standard form of urban growth worldwide, representing a 20 th- century urban form unlike that of the 19 th- century central downtown.

Garreau established f ive rules for a place to be considered an edge city:

  • It must have more than f ive million square feet ( 465 , 000 sq. m) of office space. Such an area can accommodate between 20 ,000 and 50 , 000 office workers – as many as some traditional downtowns.
  • It must have more than 600 , 000 square feet ( 56 , 000 sq. m²) of retail space, the size of a medium shopping mall. This ensures that the edge city is a center of recreation and commerce as well as of office work.
  • It must be characterised by more jobs than bedrooms.
  • It must be perceived by the population as one place.
  • It must have had no urban characteristics 30 years earlier.

Most edge cities develop at or near existing or planned freeway intersections, and are especially l ikely to develop near major airports. They rarely include heavy industry. They often are not separate legal entities but are governed as part of surrounding counties ( this i s more often the case in the East than in the Midwest, South, or West). They are numerous— almost 200 in the United States, compared to 45 downtowns of comparable s ize— and are large geographically because they are built at automobile scale.

Spatially, edge cities primarily consist of mid- r i se office towers ( with some skyscrapers) surrounded by massive surface parking lots and meticulously manicured lawns. Instead of a t raditional street grid, their street networks are hierarchical, consisting of winding parkways ( often lacking s idewalks) that feed into arterial roads or freeway ramps. However, edge cities feature job density similar to that of secondary downtowns found in places such as Newark and Pasadena; indeed, Garreau writes that edge cities’ development proves that ” density i s back”.

Types of Edge Cities

Garreau identified three distinct varieties of the edge city phenomenon:

    • Boomers – The most common type, having developed incrementally around a shopping mall or highway interchange.
    • Greenfields – Having been master- planned as new towns, generally on the suburban fringe.
    • Uptowns – Historic activity centers built over an older city or town ( sometimes a satellite city).

For example, within Northern Virginia, Tysons Corner is a Boomer, Reston Town Center is a Greenfield, and the Rosslyn– Ballston Corridor is an Uptown.

Multi- polar cities

In some cases large metropolitan areas have multiple centers of close to equal importance. These multi- polar cit ies are often referred to as twin cities. Multi- polar cities differ from satellite cities in two key ways:

      • Satellites are clearly much less important than the larger center around which they are located, while the various nodes of multi- polar cities are close to each other in importance.
      • Satellites are separated from the larger center by a substantial belt of rural territory, while twin cities may be fully integrated in physical form.

For example Fort Worth, Texas i s a twin of Dallas, Texas because though Fort Worth i s somewhat smaller, i t is proportionally close enough and physically integrated enough with Dallas to be considered a twin rather than a satellite. Generally speaking, cit ies that are l isted as being part of the same urbanised area should be considered twins, rather than one having a satellite relationship to the other.


Initially the cities tend to expand their legal boundaries ( original cities) putting a strain on municipal services. But these town develop as a separate entity — dependent to a high degree on the city for employment. They allow a patchwork of administrative structures to grow up to collect their taxes and provide the services needed locally.

Demand of Housing – Increased migration creates a major problem of providing habitat. The houses are sold before they are built i s measure of the crazy demand for housing in Indian cities, for e. g. , Noida Extension.

This demand will now fan out across Delhi and i ts less l i t igated suburbs. Living just got costlier for the next generation of migrants into the national capital, among a handful of zones in the country that are humming with economic activity. The government estimates India needs to build a Delhi every year to absorb the people moving from the countryside to its cities.

The urgency can, and does, lead to corners being cut. Particularly in the lengthy process of converting farms surrounding most towns into suburbia. Greater Noida is paying for i ts haste, but i t is by no stretch an isolated instance of municipal authorities taking a short cut. It is encouraging to see courts upholding farmers’ property r ights in this furious race for urbanisation. The fact that a few farmers can stop a city coming up on their land i s a reassurance of India’ s democratic credential even though the economic price may be high.

Some housing frenzy can be avoided if India were to spread economic activity beyond the clutches of cities that drives us now. The National Capital Region ( NCR), for instance, needs around 2 , 00 , 000 new houses every year. About 1 , 20 , 000 are built. Effectively this adds 4 , 00 , 000 home seekers in and around Delhi, in a year. If , however, plans to develop satellite towns l ike Meerut and Mathura were given more than l ip service, both economic development and the housing stock would broaden out. However, investments in transport and communications that would make this possible don’ t seem to materialise in an economy growing at close to 9 % for close to a decade. I f we must make the best of a bad situation, the least we can do is make land conversion easier and transparently sell the acquired land. There is enough land out there

  • Indian cities make up for mere 2 % of the country’ s farmland – the trick i s to make i t accessible without too much pain to either the seller or the buyer. Problems of satellite towns can be summarised as follows:
    • Lack of adequate f inance.
    • Lack of well developed infrastructure.
    • Lack of well developed transportation facility.
    • Talent is attracted towards the main city and satellite towns have to compromise with less talented people mostly migrants from rural areas.
    • More job opportunities in main town.
    • I f new towns are developed the gestation period is 4 to 5 years.
    • The expenses must be taken by the investors. Finding them, especially in conditions of the global f inancial crisis, i s difficult.

Government Initiative

Scheme for Urban Infrastructure in Satellite Town around seven mega cities:

Ministry of Urban Development has formulated a scheme for Urban Infrastructure in satellite towns around seven mega cities. The objectives of the scheme are:

  1. . To develop urban infrastructure facilities such as drinking water, sewerage, draining and solid waste management etc. at satellite towns/ counter magnets around the seven mega-

cities and to channelise their future growth so as to reduce pressure on the mega cities;

  1. . To implement reforms such as e- governance, property tax, double entry accounting, creation of barrier free environment, structural safety norms in compliance with the National Building Core, water and energy audit of water and wastewater utilities and implementation of service- level benchmarks; and
  2. . Strengthening implementation of reforms such as levy of reasonable user charges,
  3. . Earmarking of budgets for basic services and at least 10 – 15 % of housing s i tes for the urban poor,
  4. . Formulation of bylaws to incorporate provisions for disaster management, water harvesting and reuse and recycle of waste water and
  5. . Implementation of Public Private Partnership ( PPP) projects.

The pilot scheme to develop satellite towns around seven mega cities will spill over to the 12 th Plan period ( 2013 to 2018 ) , as against the original deadline of April 2012 .

The Urban Development Ministry is in the process of writing to the Planning Commission to seek more t ime for executing the satellite town project. Depending on the success of the pilot scheme around seven mega cities, a broad- based project with a national perspective is l ikely to be considered.

Although the approved central assistance for the scheme is Rs 500 crore, the outlay is expected to go up significantly once i t i s l isted under the 12 th Plan. According to a ministry official, “ keeping in view the response of state governments and the urban local bodies, the scheme may be extended to next f ive- year plan and i t is also possible that more satellite towns will be covered under i t .”

Initially, the urban infrastructure development scheme for satellite towns was meant to be around cit ies with population of more than a million, at a project cost of over `10 , 000 crore. There would be around 50 cities with million plus population by the year end, estimates suggest.

Subsequently, the scope of the project was cut down to just a pilot for a satellite town each around the seven mega cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

The towns being covered under the pilot project are Pikhuwa ( Uttar Pradesh), Vikarabad ( Andhra Pradesh), Sonepat ( Haryana), Vasai- Virar ( Maharashtra), Sriperumbudur ( Tamil Nadu), Sanand ( Gujarat) and Jyoti Basu Nagar ( West Bengal).

While the central grant will be 80 per cent of the total expenditure, states and local municipalities will contribute 10 per cent each of the cost.

The scheme was approved in 2009 , after which states were asked to nominate towns of their choice. After states named the satellite towns of their choice, work was started on the project in 2010 – 11 .

Even as most of the towns, which are being developed under the pilot project, are industrial hubs, Sanand near Ahmedabad with the Nano factory being an example, officials said there was no directive from the government suggesting industrial activity should be the guiding principle. Innovative features such as Geographic Information System ( GIS), energy audit, and disaster management are integral parts of the satellite town development project.

It i s believed the government i s now seeking a sustained and long- term engagement with towns across the country, rather than a piecemeal approach focused on just a few areas. An official said the new thinking may change the complexion of the urban infrastructure development scheme.


  1.  The satellite towns or r ing towns have developed to decongest the metropolitan cities, which are usually located within 30 – 45 Km and are well connected with the main city.
  2.  A new town as satellite requires to be developed faster than the rate at which the metropolitan city is growing. It should offer opportunities, basic facilities and amenities comparable to those obtained in the metropolitan city without the restrictions and difficulties imposed in the metropolitan cities. For e. g., New Mumbai can never develop as a counter magnet to Greater Mumbai as i t is being developed too s lowly with too l i ttle facilities.
  3. The development of satellite town should keep in view not only the perspective of future growth but should also cater to the day to day needs, recreational needs, medical needs etc of the people l iving there from the beginning which will result in healthy growth of new town.
  4. In developing countries l ike India, a large population is engaged into casual or self employment. This section facilitates the requirements of regularly employed people. This unattended part of society requires attention in terms of transportation r ight from the beginning. Otherwise they can become an environmental l iability by l iving in slums, and moreover cater to all sorts of people in unhygienic ways.
  5. Availability of good & efficient means of transport and communication between the new town metropolitan city can ensure the success of satellite town.
  6.  Public and private participation should go hand in hand which can ensure the sustainable development of new town.