100 years after Addison, housing is in focus again

July 01 2019
100 years after Addison, housing is in focus again

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees writes for the Voice

THIS year is the 100th anniversary of the Act of Parliament which made housing by local authorities a national responsibility.

Bristol is proud to be the only major city commemorating this landmark by celebrating our oldest estates built following the Act and the people who live in them.

This is also an opportunity to look at the future of council housing across the city.

The 1919 Housing & Town Planning Act, known as the “Addison Act” after the Minister for Housing and Health Dr Christopher Addison, resulted in the first significant period of council house building in the UK.

This was in response to the housing crisis experienced in the country after the First World War and an aspiration to build a country fit for returning heroes.

Sea Mills saw the launch of the Homes for Heroes 100 project, a unique collaborative programme of events and activities taking place across the city.

The suburb hosted a birthday party for the Addison oak tree that was planted on 4 June 1919 by Dr Addison and the Lady Mayoress.

The following weekend saw a community-led festival and the unveiling of a heritage trail around the estate. The very first houses constructed under the Act are in Hillfields.

The events here have a uniquely architectural focus on the types and styles of home built.

The local community, including pupils at Minerva Primary School, are part of a varied programme of events showcasing the variety of houses and to raise awareness of the significance of the suburb in the creation of modern housing for all citizens in Bristol.

Knowle West Media Centre and the Architecture Centre are also participating in the programme.

But we are not just looking to the past; we have made house building in the city a key commitment, aiming to build 2,000 new homes a year – 800 affordable – by 2020.

In a ceremony to mirror that which took place in 1919, an oak sapling was planted in Ashton, south Bristol, at a new housing development.

This will provide 133 new homes, 40 per cent of them affordable, for a new generation through social rented council houses.

The sapling was kindly donated by a family in Knowle and marked the centenary of the Addison Act and to celebrate the future communities which will soon be living on the new site. 

For more information on all the groups involved and their projects go to the Festival of Ideas website.