The History of Council Housing

previous next

7 Pushing the Boundaries and Housing All

Another feature of the post-war expansion of council housing during the 1950s and 1960s was the development of more new peripheral estates on or close to the edge of the cities. By this time most inner city potential building sites had been exhausted and faced with growing waiting lists of people needing housing councils turned to the peripheries. Sometimes city boundaries were expanded to embrace these new estates. Peripheral expansion was partly about rehousing people from the congested inner city areas where redevelopment was taking place, and partly about responding to the sheer growth in demand for housing during the ‘baby boom’ period up until the 1970’s.
A common difficulty for new residents on these surburb estates was the distance from the city centre and often inadequate bus service. People were often moved in before roads and pavements were finished. Many had to contend with thick mud and a feeling of isolation in their new community. Schools, shops and other facilities on the new estates were slow to follow but at least the councils were prepared to discuss the inclusion of public houses in their plans by now! The majority new homes built on these estates were typical two story houses, but there was also a significant amount of high-rise building - mainly as a result of the higher subsidy available and also as a result of architectural fashion. It was hoped these flats could meet the growing demand for accommodation from other types of households - smaller families, young couples and the elderly population.
Housing provision for the elderly population had historically been met by charitable means. Almshouses, mostly built during the nineteenth century, provided a resting home for the fortunate few who were offered accommodation, alternatively many older people ended up in workhouses or institutional accommodation. The issue of meeting the housing needs for the elderly population began to be considered seriously by local councils by the 1940s. It was believed that the duty of making housing provision for older people must be the responsibility of the council and purpose built elderly housing like those shown on the left should be included in the programme of building. In 1946 the number of pensioners in Britain was over 4,000,000 and it was admitted that only a fraction had access to suitable accommodation. Up until this time, most councils had concentrated on building family homes, largely in the new suburban estates.
©2008 University of the West of England, Bristol
except where acknowledged
previous next