100 years of council housing: The view from Hackney

Published on October 31, 2019

Published on October 31, 2019

2019 has marked 100 years since the Addison Act brought decent low-cost rented housing to working class households across London.

From July onward, London and the country as a whole has lit up with social housing estates and neighbourhoods holding parties and events to celebrate the milestone.

Ampthill Square Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) in Camden held a Festival in September to celebrate the twin milestones of the Addison Act and their own estate’s fiftieth birthday.

And in Hackney this week, more than 200 people, mostly council tenants and leaseholders, packed in to Hackney Town Hall to celebrate over a century of council housing in Hackney.

Interviews with tenants about what council housing means to them adorned the walls and fish and chips, wine and soft drinks were on the menu. Meanwhile, a local young poet and a Turkish music group entertained the crowd.

A collaborative initiative between tenants, leaseholders, councillors and council staff, the event also celebrated the contributions of TRAs over the years. Among the speeches was one from Steve Webster, chair of the Hackney Resident Liaison Group.

Hackney council tenant, Barb Roberts, said; “I’m fortunate as a council tenant to live in the 2nd oldest ‘social dwelling’ in Hackney (by a few months). It was built by the London County Council and completed in 1905 for ‘the working people’ following a slum clearance.

“We desperately need more true council houses/flats at true social rent. Our council waiting lists to house families in need are massive.

“We also need to stop the right-to-buy so that social housing stays social housing! The flat above me is a leasehold property – it’s a 3 bedroomed flat, although two of the bedrooms are right above my living room – which makes them in reality quite small. It recently sold for £549,000……..yup over half a million for a former council flat!”

 Barb Roberts with her display

At LTF’s upcoming conference A 2019 Tenant Manifesto for Future Housing, we’ll be bringing together social housing tenant representatives from across London to decide on a tenants’ vision for the future of social housing from here.