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Letter: 20th-century Tory Governments Paid For Most New Council Houses

Published on: 24 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 24 Feb, 2021

From: Dave Middleton

In response to: Why Are Labour Repeating the Tory Line?

Leaving aside the sadly inevitable political bickering in Cllr Potter’s letter, I find myself agreeing with the overall theme, that the loss of funds to central government should not have happened.

One hopes the investigation prevents such happening again and if negligence, wrongdoing, or incompetence are revealed, the parties involved are subject to suitable disciplinary action.

My understanding of council house-building during the 20th century (from lessons at school decades ago), is that the bulk of the funding came from central government subsidies to councils, encouraging local authorities to clear slums and build new homes.

So most local authority housing was directed and funded nationally.

This was a result of the Tudor Walters Report of 1917/18 and the Housing Act 1919 (the Addison Act) and subsequent housing acts throughout the century.

Perhaps surprisingly to some, the bulk of council housing throughout the 20th century was in fact built under Conservative governments.

Interestingly, London County Council, who built large, suburban estates, some in the Home Counties (I believe Bellfields at Guildford and the Old Dean Estate at Camberley may be examples in Surrey), also raised money via “Housing Bonds” from private investors, perhaps an early example of a Private Financing Initiative (PFI)?

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test 2 Responses to Letter: 20th-century Tory Governments Paid For Most New Council Houses

  1. David Rose Reply

    February 24, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    I think you’ll find Guildford Borough Council built Bellfields’ council housing post-Second World War.
    Guildford council built its first council homes in Cline Road, Charlotteville in about 1906.
    Shepherds Hill in Stoughton was built soon after the First World War in the big push nationally to build council housing after that war.
    Westborough’s council house building started in the 1920s and onwards.
    Park Barn came after the Second World War along with Bushy Hill at Merrow – all by the town council, as far as I know.
    Note: not all of Park Barn was built as council housing.
    And there have been other much smaller builds since.
    Also, remember rural district councils built council housing in villages, including by the former Guildford Rural District Council.
    If you know only a little about architecture you can roughly date when such homes were built – many with some fine designs of the time.
    There has been some great council (social housing) built this past couple of years at Aaron’s Hill in Godalming.
    London County Council may well have built the Old Dean estate in Camberley – roads are named after places in London to help the then new occupants from ‘London overspill’ feel more at home in ‘leafy Surrey’.
    The Sheerwater estate in Woking was a London County Council initiative.

    • Dave Middleton Reply

      February 24, 2021 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you for the correction regards Bellfields and the other information David. Much appreciated.

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