A narrative history of council housing–from slums to the Grenfell TowerUrgent, timely and compelling, Municipal Dreams brilliantly brings the national story of housing to life. In this landmark reappraisal of council housing, historian John Boughton presents an alternative history of Britain. Rooted in the ambition to end slum living, and the ideals of those who would build a new society, Municipal Dreams looks at how the state’s duty to house its people decently became central to our politics.
The book makes it clear why that legacy and its promise should be defended. Traversing the nation in this comprehensive social, political and architectural history of council housing, Boughton offers a tour of some of the best and most remarkable of our housing estates–some happily ordinary, some judged notorious. He asks us to understand their complex story and to rethink our prejudices.
His accounts include extraordinary planners and architects who wished to elevate working men and women through design; the competing ideologies that have promoted state housing and condemned it; the economic factors that have always constrained our housing ideals; the crisis wrought by Right to Buy; and the evolving controversies around regeneration. Boughton shows how losing the dream of good housing has weakened our community and hurt its most vulnerable–as was seen most catastrophically in the fire at Grenfell Tower.