Museum house plan dropped
PLANS to turn one of Bristol’s first ever council houses back to its original 1920 condition have been scrapped.
This house in Briar Way, was Bristol's first to be let to a council tenant
The house in Briar Way, Hillfields, was identified in housing records as the first in Bristol to have council tenants.
But the plan to return it to the condition it was in after being built in July 1920, as a temporary museum piece, was abandoned after the £60,000 cost was deemed too high.
The idea was mooted as part of the Homes For Heroes 100 celebrations, marking the centenary of the Addison Act which led to the first council estates in the aftermath of the First World War.
But it came under fire from Bristol Homes Board members concerned it would deny a house to a family on the waiting list.
The cost also became a contentious issue after it was announced at a meeting of the board last week, with the bulk of the money having to be spent converting the property back to modern standards afterwards if the idea was given the go-ahead.
Now, city council housing cabinet member Paul Smith has announced the proposal has been abandoned. Instead, the council is considering a cheaper alternative using virtual reality technology, which would be accessible to more people.
Most of the cash for Homes For Heroes 100, a series of community events in Bristol throughout the year, comes from an £80,000 Heritage Lottery Fund and £80,000 matched funding from the council.
A feasibility study was carried out to determine how much it would cost to return the property in Briar Way to its 1920s ‘showhome’ condition.
But Mr Smith said: “Given the cost we won’t be turning a house into a 1920s version for a year, but will look at other ways to show what the Hillfields show homes looked like when they were first built.”
He said the idea was mentioned at the Bristol Homes Board meeting but that the details about it being scrapped were not discussed because the money was not available anyway.
Concerns about the consequences of taking an actual council house out of use for 12 months were raised by board member Penny Walster, from ACFA network of advice centres, who asked Mr Smith to consider a VR alternative.
Bristol’s Homes For Heroes 100 project is the biggest series of events in the country to mark the anniversary of the Addison Act and will include walking tours, artists’ community workshops and even specially commissioned new books.
Waiting list tops 11,000
THE decision not to convert a Hillfields council house into a museum display comes as new figures show that more than 11,000 households are on the waiting list for social housing in the city.
The number has risen by 20 per cent in two years.
The latest Housing, Communities and Local Government ministry data shows that in March of last year there were 11,693 households on the housing waiting list in Bristol.
Of those, 2,745 were households living in unhygienic or overcrowded housing, while a further 2,633 had to move due to a medical condition.
In Bristol, there were 389 vacant homes by the end of March 2018, all of them owned by the council. Of those, 57% were available for letting.
Across England, more than 1.1 million families were on council waiting lists – 6% fewer than in 2016.
Housing charity Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said: "When you compare the number of households waiting with the tiny number of available homes, and the trickle of new social homes being built, you understand how chilling today’s housing crisis is.
"It’s not just those in greatest need crying out for the chance of a stable home either, hundreds of thousands of older people and young families are also desperate to escape the private renting trap."
Over the last years, Bristol's social housing stock has remained steady.
By the end of March 2017, there were 39,190 social and council homes — 27,200 owned by the council and 11,990 by housing associations.
Mayor's View: Page 17