Homes for Heroes 100: The Addison Vision Today

John Boughton, Madge Dresser, Simon Güntner and Paul Smith

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The Addison Act of 1919 introduced the modern council estate and allocated resources to building houses. Since then, millions of people have benefited from council housing. What was a great vision and an attempt to provide good and decent dwellings in a good society for middle- and working-class people, as well as create new communities, changed over the decades. Council housing began to be seen as a place of last resort for the poor, the quality of much housing began to decline, and right-to-buy saw the best houses sold and no new investment from the proceeds of this.

What lessons can be learned from this? And what lessons can be learned from other cities? John Boughton (author of the blog and book Municipal Dreams) looks at the Addison vision, what went right and what went wrong; Madge Dresser (University of Bristol) looks at what council housing did for the city of Bristol; and Simon Güntner (Head of Centre of Sociology, TU Wien) looks at the post-First World War Vienna housing programme, which remains in the ownership of the municipality and with cooperatives, but is now failing to deliver for lower-income groups and faces the additional pressure of migration to the city. Paul Smith (Bristol City Council) chairs.

This event is part of Homes for Heroes 100, a year-long programme run by Bristol City Council, Festival of Ideas and Bristol Cultural Development Partnership in association with Local Learning, Knowle West Media Centre, Sea Mills 100 and the Architecture Centre. It marks the centenary of the Addison Act, which introduced the modern council estate, and looks at the past, present and future of council housing. Activity is taking place across Bristol, especially in Hillfields, Sea Mills and Knowle West, and includes community projects, history projects, walking tours, exhibitions, new books and art works. It is funded by Arts Council England, Bristol City Council, Historic England (through their Heritage Schools Initiative) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Image credit: Miles Tewson

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