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(2) The expression "cottage" in this part of this Act may include a garden of not more than half an acre provided that the estimated annual value of such garden shall not exceed three pounds.
Adoption of Part III.-The Act can be adopted in London by the county council or by the borough councils, and in urban districts by the town or urban district council. These bodies can adopt the Act without consulting any other authority. In rural districts the adopting authority, the rural district council, is still handicapped by an elaborate series of provisions, though others were repealed by the amending Act of 1900. They are still required to obtain the consent of the county council. Particulars of the new Act are given below.
Powers. —Land can be purchased compulsorily if necessary, as provided in the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, and no lease, settlement, entail or other private arrangement can debar a local authority from acquiring it. Houses already built may be purchased or leased, or contracts may be made to lease houses “hereafter to be built or provided." "The local authority may, on any land acquired or appropriated by them, erect houses or alter and improve existing houses, and may fit up, furnish and supply the same with all requisite furniture, fittings and conveniences."
Land possessed by a local authority may be sold or exchanged for other land more suitable for building purposes. It is sometimes stated that houses built under this Part cannot be let at more than £8 per annum. This is a mistake. No limit whatever is imposed on the value of the houses ; the only provision of the sort relates to the size and value of the gardens.
Finances.- The London County Council obtains the necessary money by the issue, with the consent of the Treasury, of London County Stock at about three per cent. Metropolitan borough councils can borrow of the London County Council, or of the Public Works Loan Commissioners. Elsewhere, the consent of the Local Government Board must be first obtained. They may order a local enquiry to be held, and if they sanction the loan it can be obtained from the Public Works Loan Commissioners at the same rates as for Part II. In rural districts the charge may be levied on the particular parish or parishes benefited by the scheme.
But is must always be recollected that the cottages ought to be a sound investment, and the interest of the loan, though secured on the rates, will be paid out of the rents of the dwellings erected.
The Act of 1900.*
Section i enables urban councils to build under Part III. outside their own area.
Section 2. The cumbrous procedure previously necessary in rural districts before Part III. could be adopted is materially simplified. Henceforth the county council can forth with consent to the application of a rural district council for permission to adopt Part III.,
• The text of the Act is printed in full in Tract No. 103, “Overcrowding in London and its Remedy."
provided that "in giving or withholding their consent under this section, the county council shall have regard to the area for which it is proposed to adopt the said Part; and to the necessity for accommodation for the housing of the working classes in that area ; and to the probability of such accommodation being provided without the adoption of the said Part; and to the liability which will be incurred by the rates, and to the question whether it is, under all the circumstances, prudent for the district council to adopt the said Part." It will be observed that a county council is not obliged to be satisfied on the points named, but only to have regarded " them.
Section 3 deals with the financial powers of metropolitan borough councils.
Section 4.' Land acquired under Part III. may be used for rehousing under Parts I. and II., and the cost may be charged against the account of those Parts.
Section 5 gives power to local authorities--with the consent, if rural, of the county council; if- urban, of the Local Government Board ; and if in London, of a Secretary of State-to lease land acquired under Part III. for building, subject to stringent provisions that the houses built shall be of the desired character.
Section 6. A county council, on representation from a parish council that the rural district council ought to have taken steps for the adoption of Part III., and have failed to do so, is empowered, after enquiry, to take over the powers of the defaulting rural district council, and act on behalf of the parish in its place.
This section is very valuable, because it gives parish councils for the first time a definite legal status under the Housing Acts. They are now empowered to adopt resolutions and to appeal against the apathy of negligent district councils.
Section 7 provides that compensation for land acquired compulsorily under Part III. shall be determined by a single arbitrator appointed by the government, in place of the cumbrous and costly arrangement necessary under the Land Clauses Act.
The Act does not apply to Scotland or Ireland, and only amends Part III. of the principal Act.
The Act of 1903. This Act makes the following changes in the law, and like the preceding one does not apply to Scotland or Ireland.
The maximum period of loans is raised from 60 years in London and 50 years elsewhere to 80 years.
Power is given to the local authority to erect shops or any other buildings, and to provide recreation grounds for the benefit of the expected tenants, with the approval of the Local Government Board.
Any person or body that under any private Act acquires dwellings occupied by 30 or more persons of the working classes must in future provide rehousing, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board.
Other clauses materially simplify procedure, and increase the powers both of local authorities and of ratepayers in carrying out
the provisions of Parts I. and II. of the principal Act'; but they deal with details into which we need not enter.
Examples of Municipal Housing. Below are given some instances where municipalities have adopted the Acts or preceding enactments on similar lines.
LONDON The metropolis has done far more in the matter of housing than any other city-its total expenditure under the various Housing Acts amounts indeed to about four millions—but it came into the field late. Not until 1876 did the Metropolitan Board of Works take action, and then only on the lines of clearing away slums at great expense, without itself rehousing; and selling the cleared land at a very low rate to various dwellings' companies and the Peabody Trustees. Between 1876 and 1888 twenty-two schemes were carried out, averaging one each year, applying to 59 acres, 'at a net loss to the public of £1,318,935. As a result the companies erected and now possess as their own freehold 263 blocks of dwellings, accommodating some 27,000 persons.
When the London County Council was established a change of policy took place. Instead of parting with the cleared land, the council decided to retain it in public ownership and itself erect, workmen's dwellings upon it, sometimes by its own works department and sometimes by contractors. Between 1889 and 1905 twenty-five separate schemes have been undertaken by the council itself (besides 11 other groups of dwellings erected under Street Improvement and the Thames Tunnel Acts); and, in addition, the council has contributed part (usually half) of the cost of other schemes undertaken by the borough councils.
The dwellings provided are of all kinds, as required by local conditions, including great blocks of tenements in Central London, each tenement including from one to five rooms; in the suburbs detached or semi-detached cottages with gardens; and two common lodging houses. The aim of the council has been not so much to reduce rents (which, it is argued, would in the long run merely benefit the employer by reducing London rates of wages to the provincial standards) as to raise the standard of working class dwellings by supplying a better article for the same money. Thus the council's rooms are loftier and better ventilated, its stairways and passages are wider and lighter, and its sanitary and other conveniences are healthier and more comfortable than are usually provided, but the rents are always fixed so as not to exceed per room those current in the locality. Hence no profit is made. On the whole of the housing operations, taking one year with another, the rents received about balance the actual outgoings (not including any expense of clearing away the slums, and taking the land at its bare selling value for housing purposes only; but including the interest and sinking fund payable on capital borrowed for this reduced site-value and for con-' struction ; and all repairs, rates and taxes, expenses of management,
etc.). The total number of persons actually occupying the council's dwellings at the end of March, 1905, when a census was taken, was 19,335, and this will have risen to over 95,000 when schemes actually in hand are completed. The total rents received for 1904-5 were £ 105,661, and the total outgoings £ 106,757 (including £ 58,432 payment for interest and sinking fund).
Among the dwellings built or in course of building may be mentioned the following:
(a) The Boundary Street Scheme (Bethnal Green). This is one of the largest schemes ever undertaken under the Housing Acts by any authority. Fifteen acres of awful slums (with 5,719 inhabitants) were gradually cleared between 1893 and 1897 at a net cost of £270,000.
On the site the council has erected at a total cost of £6333,000 twenty-three separate blocks, containing 1,069 tenements (with 2,762 rooms), 18 shops and 77 workshops, accommodating 5,380 persons ; with wide streets, large courtyards, and three public gardens. A public laundry, public baths, and two club rooms have also been provided. The rents per room are no higher than was paid for the old slums; and they just about cover the actual outgoings, leaving only the cost of clearing the slums to be charged to the rates.
(6) The Common Lodging House (Parker Street, Drury Lane). This was the first attempt made in London to raise the standard of the common “doss house," and the great thought and ingenuity put into the plans by the Council, as well as its experience in the matter, have since been made use of in the “Rowton House" and other improved common lodging houses. It cost £22,297, accommodates 324 men, is always full
, and the charge of 6d. per night just covers all outgoings. A similar common lodging house for women has been built on the Falcon Court site, Southwark.
(c) Action under Part III. of the Act of 1890. On the passing of the 1890 Act the council at once took action under Part III. by taking over and completing the Dufferin Street Dwellings, St. Luke's, specially designed for costermongers. In 1894 the Parker Street common lodging house, built under Part III., was opened. In 1896
ur blocks of dwellings were begun in Southwark, which were opened in 1897. Two other sites in Southwark were obtained in 1897 and 1898, on one of which three blocks were erected, and on the other a single block has been completed. In 1893 the council induced the Government to sell at £2,500 per acre ten acres of the site of Millbank prison, but could not get possession until 1897. This is now covered with seventeen blocks of dwellings, accommodating 4,000 persons. During 1899 two sites, and during 1900 two more, were acquired in the Strand and Holborn districts, on which 4,000 persons will be accommodated. In January, 1900, after many difficulties, the council succeeded in buying (at £1,150 per acre) 381 acres at Totterdown Fields, Tooting, close to the terminus of one
of the council's tramways ; workmen's cottages to accommodate over 8,000 persons are being erected at an estimated cost of £400,000.
In November, 1900, the council decided to buy 31 acres at Norbury, Surrey, just outside the county, at a cost of £20,000, on which to erect 762 cottages accommodating 5,800 persons at a capital cost of probably £283,000. In November, 1901, the council bought the White Hart Lane estate, Tottenham, comprising 2254 acres at £400 per acre, on which it is estimated that accommodation for 42,500 persons in cottages and in tenements over shops can be provided. The development of the estate in sections is being proceeded with.
BIRMINGHAM. Ryder Street. In order to rehouse the people displaced by the improvement scheme of some years earlier, the council in the years 1890 to 1892 erected 103 dwellings of the cottage type, accommodating about 500 persons, let at 5s. to 6s. 3d. per week. They are five-roomed dwellings, substantially built, and cost about £ 175 each. The buildings have back doors opening on an enclosed brick-paved yard 36 feet across. The houses at 5s. 6d. have on the ground floor a living room 13 feet square, and a kitchen 12 feet by 9 feet, fitted with an iron sink and a small copper. There is also a pantry and a coal cupboard. On the first floor there are two bedrooms, and above them a spacious, well-lighted attic. Good grates and ovens are provided in every house, and iron is largely used for mantelpieces and other fittings. Each house has a penny-in-the-slot gas meter and a flushed w.c. The dwellings are never vacant. After paying interest, sinking fund charges, various rates, etc., the net surplus is equal to an average annual ground rent of about uid. per square yard per annum, an amount above the estimated market value of the land.
Milk Street. The council in 1900 built 61 cottage flats on a cleared site, in four terraces, including 24 tenements containing two rooms each, and 28 with three rooms apiece, five cottage dwellings and a shop. Each tenement has a scullery and lavatories in addition to the rooms. The rent charged is is. 6d. per week per living room. The total expenditure upon the scheme, including sewering, roadmaking, etc., was £10,078.
In July, 1900, the health committee reported that there was a deficiency of cottages, and in August the council decided to buy 17 acres of land at Bordesley Green, three miles from the centre, in order to erect dwellings.' The council has, however, reversed the decision to build, and for the past three years has been endeavoring to lease the site for building purposes. An attempt is now being made to establish a co-partnership tenants' association to undertake the lease.
CROYDON. In 1901 the corporation adopted Part III. of the Act, and bought 104 acres of land at Woodside for £5,050. Eighty-seven houses have been erected at a cost, including roads, of about £22,500. These have been so successful that the housing committee proposes to proceed with the erection of 100 additional cottages at an estimated cost of £27,000.