Celebrating a century of council housing

A series of talks are being held this month to mark a century of council housing.

Local resident Alan Cooke will be speaking about the history of council housing in Brighton & Hove at the following Housing Area Panel meetings. The talks are likely to be of particular interest to council tenants and leaseholders:

  • North Area Panel - 9 December at 7pm, Housing Centre, Fairway Trading Estate, Eastergate Road, Brighton, Moulsecoomb     
  • East Area Panel - 16 December at  7pm, the Whitehawk Inn, Whitehawk Road, Brighton 
  • West Area Panel - 17 December at  2pm Sanders House, Ingram Crescent, Hove
  • Central Area Panel - 18 December at 2pm the Barnard Centre,  St Johns Mount flats, Mount Pleasant, Brighton 

Alan is secretary of Craven Vale Community Association and organises the Local History Group of the Brighton & Hove University of the Third Age. 

At the West panel on 17 December, Alan will be joined by historian and fellow member of University of the Third Age, Dr Di Parkin, who researched the council minutes and history of council housing in Hove specifically.

You can view or download the presentation below:

Area panel meetings are held four times a year and are an opportunity for residents to hear more about what’s going on in the council’s housing service and share their views.

Grants for community art projects

Residents on the city’s housing estates are also being invited to apply for grants of up to £250 for community art projects to mark the centenary.

The aim is to encourage projects which bring residents together and could be, for example, creating an eye catching piece of art for a community room or communal garden. 

To apply or find out more, contact the Community Engagement Team by emailing communityengagement@brighton-hove.gov.uk or calling 01273 294651.

Councillor Gill Williams, chair of the housing committee, said: “Having a home of your own is as important today as it was 100 years ago, and we are committed to building more council homes in the city. 

“We hope residents of all ages will get together and come up with ideas for creating their own artworks to mark the centenary, and come along to the talks at our area panels to find out more about the local history of council housing.”

History of council housing in the city

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Addison Act, which led to councils building social housing on a large scale.

Locally, council houses were already being built in Brighton at the end of the 19th century. The first, in St Helen’s Road, were completed in 1899 and are now a mix of council and private homes.

The Addison Act led to work starting on the Moulsecoomb and Queen’s Park estates in the 1920s and Whitehawk in the 1930s. The estates continued to grow until the 1940s when World War Two brought a halt to development.

The 1960s also saw the development of several council high rise blocks off Albion Hill, and many more council homes were built in other areas, including in Bevendean, Coldean, Hollingdean, Portslade and Woodingdean.

Major regeneration work was carried out in Whitehawk in the 1970s and older properties with outside bathrooms and toilets were replaced with more modern homes, changes were made to the road layout and a new community centre and library were built.

    Building for the future

    We’re building more council housing to tackle the city’s housing shortage.

    A total of 185 new council homes have been built across Brighton & Hove since 2015 through our New Homes for Neighbourhoods programme and more are under construction.

    These include 30 flats being built in Selsfield Drive, Brighton and 12 flats in Buckley Close, Hangleton. 

    More proposed schemes are in the pipeline, and a planning application for 42 flats on the site of an old housing office in Victoria Road, Portslade will be considered next year. Visit our New Homes for Neighbourhoods page to find out more.

    We’re also converting ‘hidden’ or empty spaces in council-owned property into new council homes. A former office at Swallow Court in Whitehawk has been converted into three flats, for example, and ten new homes are being provided in a former office in Oxford Street, Brighton. 

    In addition, former council homes sold under the Right to Buy are being bought back through our Home Purchase Policy.

    Residents’ memories: ‘A home of our own’

    Jean Phillips moved into her flat in Hangleton in 1962, a few years after the homes were built. She said: “We had been living with my husband’s parents in Hove, which was a bit cramped, so it was lovely to get a home of our own.

    “I came out of hospital one week with a new baby, and we moved in the next. We already had one son, so with the baby as well it was nice to have a bit more space.”

    ‘A real family home’

    Peter Avis, his wife Ross, and his brother Michael, live in one of the oldest council homes in the city in St Helen’s Road. The brothers were born in the house and have lived there ever since.

    Ross said: “It’s been a real family home for years.  The area has changed a lot over the years from when they were growing up, it’s busier and there’s more traffic now, but it’s still alright.”

    The photo shows Manor Way Brighton in the 1930s (photo courtesy of Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove).