The Council House

Published: 03/02/2023 By Allan Fuller

An excellent new book called ‘The Council House’ defends council housing as ‘monuments in time’ and a ‘symbol of national pride’ at the time of their construction. Many properties were in fact designed with imaginative architecture, some were showpieces when new. 

“The issue is that council houses have developed a stigma. This is very unfortunate. We have met original occupants of blocks in Roehampton who were absolutely thrilled to have a new home because they were bombed out from parts of London that suffered vast destruction during WW2, for the first time in their lives that had a bathroom, and not an outside toilet.
Too little has been done over the years to keep a high standard in much of the existing local authority housing. It is now acknowledged that rise blocks built in the 1960s are not ideal for families and high-rise living does not create a community. Some are being demolished but much more action is needed.
Putney has a great example of early council estates that really worked in the form of The Dover House Estate built in the 1920s by the London County Council. It was an ambitious scheme to provide homes of different sizes, each with gardens, a school, 3 allotments and local shops. The mere fact that it is now a conservation area speaks volumes of the success of the original concept.
More joined up ‘blue sky’ thinking is urgently needed to help cure our desperate housing shortage. 

For copies of the book;