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Wartime planning for post-war housing in Britain: The Whitehall debate, 1941-5

Malpass, Peter


Peter Malpass


The starting point for this article is the observation that planning for post-war housing policy has been a neglected area of study, especially in comparison with the attention given to housing during the First World War. Drawing on research in the official files, the article shows that planning for housing after the war began as early as 1941, and that a detailed and ambitious policy was in place well before the end of the war. Commitment to a very large housing programme was underpinned by the intention to use the construction industry as a way of absorbing labour and pursuing full employment. The main questions addressed by officials and ministers concerned the number of houses to be built and the agencies to be employed to build them. It became established policy that the local authorities would play a major role in the transitional period, but that, in the longer run, the majority of new building would be left to the private sector, with the local authorities reverting to their pre-war role concentrating on slum clearance and provision for the least well off. It is concluded that in terms of the quantity and quality of houses to be built the housing policy of the coalition government was more radical and ambitious than is generally recognized. But it was highly conservative in terms of its stance on systemic reform.


Malpass, P. (2003). Wartime planning for post-war housing in Britain: The Whitehall debate, 1941-5. Planning Perspectives, 18(2), 177-196.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2003
Journal Planning Perspectives
Print ISSN 0266-5433
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 177-196
Keywords wartime planning, post-war housing, Britain, Whitehall debate
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Ideas presented in �The Wobbly Pillar? Housing and Social Reconstruction in the 1940s' paper for the European Network for Housing Research conference, Vienna, July 2002.