Housing and Town Planning Act 1909
This act received cross party support and was a milestone piece of legislation relating to the way that housing developments were planned and built. The Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909 was the result of interest in “Garden City” schemes that had emerged in the late 19th Century and a realisation that housing, in urban areas, needed to be controlled through legislation.
During the Industrial Revolution, houses had been built quickly. As towns and cities grew, new homes were constructed to meet the need for accommodation close to the rapidly developing industrial sites. The housing was often very poor. Back to back homes were quick, easy and cheap to build. However, they came at a price: health. Many urban areas saw the emergence of slums as a result of the haste in which housing was built. Overcrowded and often with scant regard for waste disposal or emergency access, the slums created health issues.
As it became apparent that such conditions were not healthy, or conducive to an effective workforce, some people began to look to alternatives. Some philanthropists built model towns, others, like Ebenezer Howard, created spacious, “Garden Cities”. It was upon the principals of the Garden City that the 1909 Housing and Town Planning Act was introduced.
The Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909 required builders to limit the number of homes per acre. It also provided for minimum distances between the frontage of homes. This meant that there was always a degree of space between houses, making access better and also improving waste disposal.