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Heritage of council housing in Wealden

Media Release : 24 July 2019

Wealden District Council and its predecessors have been providing good quality subsidised housing for local people for nearly 100 years.

Council housing in Hartfield

This year, we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the passing of the Addison Act in 1919 which made it possible for local authorities to use public money from the local rates and central government to provide much-needed housing after the First World War.

“Homes are precious,” said Councillor Ray Cade, Wealden Cabinet member for Housing. “Everyone needs a secure, comfortable and decent place to live. At Wealden we are proud of a long tradition of providing homes for local people at every stage of life, which helps to maintain strong and thriving villages and towns. 

“We set a high standard by what we build - and buy in - as these homes will be needed for many years to come. In 1919, the country wanted homes for heroes. Today, 2019, we have a disparity between what houses cost to buy in Wealden and what many local people earn. Wealden has a responsibility to continue our housing heritage where we can. Good housing makes for vibrant and thriving communities.”

The Addison Act was passed in 1919, but council housing did not start to be built in Wealden district until the early 1920s. Before that, if you could not afford to pay the landlord’s rent, there were only almshouses or the work house. Small numbers of council houses began to be built in Station Road, Hailsham and Theobalds Green, Heathfield in 1924. In Crowborough, the first council houses were built in Stonecross Road in 1930. Uckfield saw its first council houses built in 1934 in Selby Road and Vernon Road. Progress by the two local authorities, Uckfield Rural District Council and Hailsham Rural District Council remained slow. Some 150 council houses were built up until the Second Word War.  The damage caused by bombing in the Second World War coupled with the 


increasing mechanisation of agriculture, which led to fewer jobs on local farms, brought a fresh impetus to council housing after the war.

Between 1944 and 1964, 960 council houses were built across the Wealden district, with many small villages getting their first council houses. Housing for older people also began to be built.

By the time Uckfield RDC and Hailsham RDC were brought together to form Wealden District Council in 1974, there were over 1,600 council-provided homes across the District, with the properties evenly split across the north and south of the district. The biggest period of housing growth took place between 1964 and 1984 when some 1,150 new council homes were built. With Right-to-Buy, a squeeze on public spending and an increase in the home ownership, the numbers of new council houses started to fall. Nevertheless, between 1983 and 2002, Wealden District Council built a further 500 council houses.

Unlike many other local authorities, who transferred their housing stock to housing associations, Wealden District Council has retained ownership of its council housing helping it to provide an efficient and effective service to some of the most vulnerable in society and contribute to more cohesive communities.

It currently owns just over 3,000 council houses including 199 new council homes it has provided since 2013, providing homes at affordable rents for local people. The 67 new retirement living apartments at Grant Hill Court are the latest example of a long tradition in Wealden of public housing.