Podcast: A Short history of council housing

Streets in the sky. Image: Getty.

127. A short history of council housing

This week's guest is John Boughton, teacher, historian and author of an excellent housing-flavoured blog, which last year appeared as a full-blown book. Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing is an incredibly readable look at the history, politics and architecture of public housing in Britain, from those first estates in the late 19th century to the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017.

It is genuinely one of the best books I have ever read on such a wonkish subject, and the paperback edition has just been published. So this seemed like an excellent moment to talk to John about what got him interested in this subject, what he learned from writing the book, and whether he is optimistic about the future of housing in this country.

Somewhere around the New Labour years, we take a short break in that conversation to talk to Paul Swinney, head of policy at the Centre for Cities, about a different aspect of the housing crisis: what the divergence in house prices between the London area and the rest of the country has done to the wealth divide in this accursed nation.

Skylines is the podcast from the New Statesman’s cities site, CityMetric. It’s hosted by Jonn Elledge and produced by Nick Hilton.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

Skylines is produced by Nick Hilton.

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.


 

 
 
 
 

What we're reading: Understanding how the coronavirus spreads in public spaces

Risk assessment: It’s a holiday weekend in the US and UK, and where the weather is nice, people will surely want to go out. Vox has a handy chart for understanding the risks of coronavirus in different settings.

Covid-proofing: Social distancing has proven to be an effective way to slow the coronavirus, but it’s an emergency method that can’t stay in place forever. In order to get the economy going again, offices, restaurants and entertainment venues will need a dramatic overhaul. The Atlantic shares ideas to make that happen.

Vacation ghost town: With no indication of when people can safely travel again, resort towns are bracing for a summer unlike any other. CityLab reports that this weekend is the start of a critical period for vacation hotspots, but residents and businesses there expect tough times ahead.