Title: Housing and Town Planning in Great Britain, including the Housing, Town Planning Act

Author: W. Addington Willis

Date: 1910

Publisher: Butterworth & Co., and Shaw & Sons, London

Translation:

Source:

public domain

Selections:

Table of Contents, Part II town planning, Appendices incliding Housing, Town Planning Act 1909

Description: This treatise by Willis explains the (British) Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909, along with the Housing of the Working Classes act of 1890 and amendments provided in the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1903. The text of each of these laws is provided as appendices.

Assessment: The acts provide the legal basis for slum clearance and for planning of new districts. There are a few aspects relevant to codes: back-to-back housing is prohibited, subterranean dwelling units are prohibited, and provision of water to each dwelling unit is mandated (p161). More importantly, it provides a legal framework. This is a national act, and sets up rules for local municipal units and a “Local Government Board” which is a national-level entity that reviews local actions. The acts are set up to ameliorate overcrowding and poor sanitation. Municipal authorities are empowered to appoint a medical officer. Interestingly, the laws allow the medical officer to use professional judgment. The process works like this: first someone complains, second the medical officer inspects a housing development, and if he says it is unfit the municipal authority has to make a redevelopment scheme. There aren’t many specifics on what this scheme should entail, though demerits are discussed: the officer assesses fitness of housing, narrowness of streets, closeness or bad arrangement of districts, and bad conditions of streets.