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Housing reform. Providing and regulating housing for the working classes - Essay Example

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Housing in Britain in the Nineteenth century – the government’s role The transformation of society after the Industrial Revolution is often considered to span no more than a few decades. However the truth is far more different. The agrarian British society gradually gave way to an industrial outlook but this transformation spanned well over a century…
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Housing reform. Providing and regulating housing for the working classes
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Download file to see previous pages However the response of the state was neither as swift nor as rapid as it could have been. Most developments in housing reform came through after the first half of the nineteenth century. These developments were largely initiated as a result of people’s growing unrest over the issues of housing. Housing reform’s initiation can be traced back to growing public dissent over poor living conditions. Working class people were forced to live in closed and cramped quarters. Most working class labourers preferred to live close to their work place. This meant that people were forced to rent out small living spaces and overcrowding was a rampant problem. New housing areas were developed but the lack of unplanned efforts made urban sprawl worse than before. Sanitation was scant and the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and typhoid was common. Death rates were high particularly in children. One estimate puts the chance of children under one year of age dying as one in six. Things began to change as people started to converge under the efforts of early pioneers such as Octavia Hill and Edwin Chadwick. Chadwick’s work titled Report on an Enquiry into the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain and on the Means of its Improvement (1842) sought to initiate reform especially in building ventilation as well as open spaces surrounding buildings. Another major aspect of his report is that the health of working classes could be improved by street cleaning, ventilation, sewage, water supplies and drainage. (CDC, 2011) This development was aided by the formation of The Society for Improving the Dwellings of the Labouring Classes in 1845. This society demanded that low rent dwellings should be created to facilitate the labouring classes. (Info Please, 2011) All of these developments clearly signify the fact that until the first half of the nineteenth century there were no signs of state intervention to improve housing conditions. These developments also indicate that the move to improve housing conditions was accepted and supported by the general masses. This pressure led the government to initiate a series of reforms that lasted well into the twentieth century. The gradual development of public resentment forced the Parliament to pass the Shaftesbury Act (The Labouring Classes Lodging Houses Act) in 1851. This act espoused the construction of new lodging houses as per some minimum standards. These standards delineated the use of certain features such as ventilation, sanitation etc. in all buildings constructed after the passage of this act. (Info Please, 2011) Another act was passed known as the Common Lodging Houses Act of 1851 which mandated the registration of keepers of common lodging houses. This Act gave wide powers to local authorities to inspect common houses. Moreover local authorities were allowed to create regulations related to common lodging houses. (Education Resources, 2011) The next direction assumed by the government to improve housing conditions was to create model housing neighbourhoods. Simultaneously the efforts of Octavia Hill helped to create housing areas where housing management was carried out professionally. Rent collection, housing welfare, repairs and rent accounting were done by individuals especially designated for such tasks. This development came through in 1865-66 in Marylebone. (CIH, 2011) It can be deduced that at ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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