Council house

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Council houses on the Progress Estate, Eltham, Southeast London
Council houses at Hackenthorpe, South Yorkshire

A council house is a form of public or social housing in built by local municipalities in the United Kingdom and Ireland A council estate is a building complex where a great many council houses and other amenities like schools and shops. Council houses were solidly built and distinctive in design which evolved over the period of their construction from 1919 to 1980. There were local design variation but they all stuck rigidly to Local Authority building standards- differing from the more relaxed attitude of the private sector.[citation needed]


The Public Health Act 1875 defined the standards needed for terraced through housing.

First World War Housing[edit]

Woolwich Borough Council was responsible for the Well Hall Estate designed for workers at the munition factories at Woolwich Arsenal. The estate and the house were built to the Garden suburb philosophy, houses were all different. The estate received the Royal seal of approval when on Friday 24 March 1916 when Queen Mary made an unannounced visit. [1]

Interwar housing[edit]

A programme of council house building started after the Great War following on from the Lloyd George’s government’s Housing Act of 1919. The 'Addison Act' brought in subsidies for council house building and aimed to provide 500,000 homes fit for heroes within a three year period although less than half of this target was met.[2] The housing built comprised three bedroom dwellings with parlour and scullery: larger properties also include a living room. The standards are based on the Tudor Walters Report of 1919, and the Design Manual written according to the 1913 building standards. In 1923 the Chamberlain Act withdrew subsidies for council houses except for private builders and houses for sale. Councils could undertake to build houses and offer these for sale but also to sell off some of their existing properties. This was essentially reversed by the incoming Labour government of 1924. The Wheatley Act (1924) passed by the new Labour Government introduced higher subsidies for council housing and also allowed for a contribution to be made from the rates. The housing revenue account was always separated from the general account.[2] This was a major period of council house construction.

The Housing Act of 1930 stimulated slum clearance, ie the destruction of inadequate houses in the inner cities that were built before the 1875 Act. This released land for housing and the need for smaller two bedroomed houses to replace the two-up two-down houses that had been demolished. Smaller three bedroom properties were also built. The Housing Act of 1935 led to a continuation of this policy [3] and the war stopped all construction and enemy action reduced the usable housing stock. [2]

Post-war housing[edit]

The immediate post-war period saw the building of prefab bungalows with a design life of ten years. Innovative steel-framed properties were also tried in an attempt to speed up construction. Mainly during the immediate post-war years, and well into the 1950s, council house provision was shaped by the New Towns Act 1946 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 of the 1945–51 Labour government. At the same time this government introduced housing legislation that removed explicit references to housing for the working class and introduced the concept of "general needs" construction (i.e., that council housing should aim to fill the needs for a wide range of society). In particular, Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health and Housing, promoted a vision of new estates where "the working man, the doctor and the clergyman will live in close proximity to each other".[4]


Progress estate houses (1916)[edit]

Further information: Progress Estate

Homes fit for heroes houses (1918-1923)[edit]

Usually three bedroomed houses with lounge and scullery- or lounge, dining room and scullery.

Seen In Downham,Watling Estate and Becontree

Labour government homes{1924-1930)[edit]

Major period of building

Smaller houses (1931-1939)[edit]

Replacing the slum clearance stock

Temporary prefabs(1941-1950)[edit]

Main article: Prefabs in the UK

Houses for the bombed out and servicemen

Parker Morris homes 1971[edit]

Among the Parker Morris standards for council houses are the requirements that:

  • In one-, two- and three-bedroom dwellings, one flushing toilet is required, and it may be in the bathroom.
  • A semi-detached or end-of-terrace house for four people should have a net floor area of 72 square metres.
  • A dwelling for three or more people should have enclosed storage space for the kitchen of 2.3 cubic metres.
  • Dwellings should be fitted with heating systems that maintain the kitchen and circulation space at 13 degrees Celsius, and the living and dining spaces at 18 °C, when the external temperature is −1 °C.

Historical statistics on housing construction[edit]

Dwellings completed by local authorities, New Towns, and Scottish Housing Association, 1945-80 (thousands)[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ideal Homes 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Housing in Wolverhampton 2012, 2.
  3. ^ Housing in Wolverhampton 2012, 3.
  4. ^ Panagidis, Andreas; Savva, Navia (2015). "ENTRY #411". 
  5. ^ The Future of Council Housing edited by John English

External links[edit]