Milton Keynes was formally designated as a New Town on 23 January 1967. Its 34 square miles (88 km²) area incorporated the existing towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford along with another fifteen villages and farmland in between. It took its name from the existing village of Milton Keynes, a few miles east of the planned city centre. Uniquely for the UK, the urban form uses a 1 km grid for the top level of street hierarchy: the local form of most districts is more conventional.
At the 2001 census the population of the Milton Keynes urban area, also including the town of Newport Pagnell, was 184,506, and that of the wider borough of Milton Keynes, which has been a unitary authority independent of Buckinghamshire since 1997, was 207,063 (compared to a population of around 53,000 for the same area in 1961).