Situated on what was the richest seam of the Durham coalfield, Peterlee was conceived to provide housing and a better living environment for the local scattered rural population and for colliery workers, and to provide a centre offering commercial, social and cultural facilities. The town was named after a former colliery worker, Peter Lee, who later became a councillor campaigning for better living conditions for colliery workers. Peterlee was the Northeast’s second new town, following nearby Newton Aycliffe, designated in 1947. The two towns shared a Development Corporation from 1963 until its dissolution in 1988.