Title: From Boundary Estate to Grenfell Tower : the changing perceptions of the role of Britain's council housing
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2021, vol. 47, iss. 2, pp. 167-181
ISSN0524-6881 (print)1805-0867 (online)
Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.
In its heyday in the 1970s, Britain's council housing sector provided homes to 40 per cent of the British population before falling victim to privatization, which changed homes for Britain's workers into commodities subject to property speculation. The fraction of the original council housing stock that has been preserved serves the needs of the society's most vulnerable. However, the concept of council housing as social housing is a later one; originally, council estates were designed for aspirational workers and were intended as mixed communities, with working and middle-class residents living side by side. Taking a historical perspective, the article maps the development of the concept of council housing in Britain from the original idea, inspired by garden cities such as Letchworth or Welwyn Garden City, to the gradual changes to both the design of council estates and their intended purpose that transformed the once socially desirable housing type into a symbol of social failure and deprivation. The recent tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire is used as a case in point to illustrate this process of change. In addition to historical research, the paper draws on recent sociological reports and newspaper articles dealing with the issue of Britain's council housing.