As 2023 draws to a close and with so much bad news around housing, I am trying to finish on a positive note.

In this post I have drawn together several pieces I have written for the wonderful Municipal Dreams blog which celebrates the fundamental achievements in council housing and the commitment of so many in the past of substantial efforts to secure a better future for all, but also reflects on what didn’t go so well.

To do this, or course, requires not just new homes in good environments, but also to identify and remedy or remove poor individual and areas of housing. The early Inspectors of Nuisance and Sanitary Inspectors (later called Public Health Inspectors and now Environmental Health Officers/Practitioners) were pivotal to contributing to healthier housing and were recognised by Dr Christopher Addison – the first Minister for Health – for their role in the housing process.

This first post from 2017 looks at the little acknowledged role of the early inspectors in dealing with the nation’s poorest housing and slums and the development of public health legislation, acknowledging the effects of the environment on health.

The second post continues the story at the outbreak of the first world war and takes us up to the start of the second world war. It explores ‘homes for heroes’ to replace slum housing and state subsidised council housing building and standards adopted by the Tudor Walters Committee.

By summer 2022 I had investigated council housing in Carpenders Park and South Oxhey. South Oxhey was one of a few large out of town housing estates built by the London Country Council in the immediate aftermath of the second world war, demonstrating what the government can do when they invest in council housing. These posts also look at issues around health from the perspective of a wider living environment with sufficient amenities and services, displacement and belonging as well as the importance of community. Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

During much of 2023 I visited archives to learn more about Stonebridge Park in Brent. Through this fascinating journey I discovered so much about the area and its housing and health history and this is split across three posts from just after the first world war until just after the second world war (where the south Oxhey posts starts). The second post covers the drive toward major area clearance and redevelopment from the later 1950s onward and the vision and reality of the tower blocks, including the effects on the community. The final post looks at a further redevelopment and comes full circle in recognition of decent homes set in an environment with sufficient amenities and services and what this means for public health today.

Combined, these seven posts therefore encapsulate a brief overview of housing and health policy and practice from the mid-Victorian era to the present day.

Listed below are some other blogs that relate to this and may be of interest.

Here’s to a 2024 and the dream of healthier housing and better lives for all.


Sources hyperlinked here:

Inspectors of Nuisance and Sanitary Inspectors

Carpenders Park and South Oxhey

Stonebridge Park


Other related links: