infed.org

start

 

housing and the london county council

picture: lcc dickens estate 2008 (infed.org)Over the twentieth century there was a major change in housing conditions and tenures in Britain. Owner occupation grew from 10% to 67% of the stock; private renting declined from 90% to less than 10%; and the social housing sector, largely in the form of council housing, grew to about a third before its reducing to less than a quarter. In London direct state intervention in housing dates back to 1875 when the Metropolitan Board of Works took powers. Sixteen schemes rehousing around 23,000 people were carried out - with the Board doing the clearance work and then disposing of the sites to different companies to build artisan's dwellings.

The London County Council (LCC) was established in 1889. Under the Housing of the Working Classes Act (1890) further areas were cleared but as no offers to build came in (the returns on housing were no longer attractive to investors) the Council began building housing itself. Between 1890 and 1914 nearly 10,000 units were built - largely for those who were regularly employed. With the Housing and Country Planning Act (1919) establishing the principle of state subsidy for housing - and pressure following the First World War to provide 'Homes fit for Heroes' - there was an acceleration of activity. The LCC also began to attend to the housing needs of the very poor. In the interwar period 97,000 council flats and houses were built. Initially there was an emphasis upon creating new suburban estates beyond the London county boundary. With local political antagonism to these schemes there was a return to building blocks of flats in the boroughs.

Much of the housing in the area immediately south of the river in Bermondsey was in an appalling state. The London County Council (LCC) had condemned the area around Wolseley Street and George Row as unfit for human habitation - and by the end of the 1920s land had been cleared and work begun on the classic five storey blocks that now stand in the area (and form part of the Dickens Estate). In 1965 the London County Council and the lower tier of 28 metropolitan boroughs was replaced by the Greater London Council (GLC) and 12 boroughs. The GLC was abolished in 1986. Their responsibilities for housing passed to the boroughs.

exploring social action: backnext