TV celebrity architect George Clarke is urging the government to commit to build 100,000 new council homes a year for the next 30 years
His petition on Change.org, which highlights that more than one million people are on council housing waiting lists in England, has so far attracted more than 100,000 signatures.
The architect last night (July 31) launched his wider campaign, which also calls for the government to review Right to Buy, with the Channel 4 programme George Clarke’s Council House Scandal. It coincided with the centenary of the 1919 Addison Act, which gave councils power to build thousands of homes following the First World War.
In the programme, Clarke reveals his plans to build his own ‘pioneering, modular, low-carbon’ housing estate over the next year. Manchester City Council has offered him a derelict plot for the development.
For inspiration, he visits the Alt Erlaa estate in Vienna and ‘tranquil masterpiece’ Dawson’s Heights in south London, designed by Kate Macintosh, whom he describes as ‘one of the unsung heroes of social housing’.
Macintosh, who, Clarke suggests, should be the next housing minister, says in the programme: ‘It is the responsibility of the state to deal with those three basic needs – shelter, education and health – and they all go together.’
In the show, Clarke explored issues with permitted development rights, which allow offices to be turned into residential accommodation without planning permission; and Right to Buy, which has seen council homes sold off without being replaced at the same rate.
Clarke, an ambassador for the housing charity Shelter, grew up on a council estate in Washington new town, near Sunderland. On the petition he says: ‘I’m proud to have been raised on a thriving council estate in the 1970s. My neighbourhood was a fantastic place to grow up and everyone was proud of their council-owned homes.
‘This country’s obsession with home ownership over the last 40 years has created real stigma around rented council housing – and it breaks my heart.
‘I want this country to remember the true value of council housing and restore it to a place of pride.’
Earlier this year, an expert panel brought together by Shelter in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, which included Clarke, called for almost 200,000 social homes to be built every year until 2034.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said: ‘Providing quality and fair social housing is a top priority for this government, which is why we’ve freed up local authorities to build more council homes.
‘Since 2010 more than 400,000 affordable homes have been delivered in England and we’re investing over £9 billion, plus an additional £2 billion after 2022, to push on and build more.’
My daughter is on her way to becoming an architect. She complains she wants her job to have more “worth” in a social context. This program was not only an inspiration for a working class Wearside girl but an education for the rest of us. Amazing #CouncilHouse100— tlav (@lavt73) August 1, 2019