This article explores an historic case study on urban reconfiguration processes focusing on the tension between officially demarcated boundaries of settlements, the lived realities of residents, and urban authorities’ desires to expand. Framed with reference to intra-regional expansions of industry and transport, growing concepts of civic community, and, before it was mandatory within the UK, the provision of local-authority social housing, Newcastle City Council’s 1903 proposals were rebuffed by its neighbouring authorities and their residents. The resultant Local Government Board inquiry and subsequent parliamentary machinations brought to the fore the complex interplay of issues that exists pertaining to contestations of place, the role of power elites, and perceived diminutions of... local accountability, especially for those facing subsumption. Though the case study herein presented occurred before ‘modern’ globalisation and the internationalisation of planning norms and processes, the interplay of power elites, conflicting views of ‘the locale’ and the other tensions noted above continue to dominate contemporary arguments when cities, in both Western and non-Western contexts, seek expansion to incorporate those peoples and lands which, they believe, form part of their outer urban cores. Perhaps lessons can be learned from history.