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Bundock, J D (1974) Speculative housebuilding and some aspects of the activities of the speculative housebuilder within the Greater London outer suburban area 1919-1939, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Economic and Social History, University of Kent.
- Type: Thesis
- Keywords: evaluation; housebuilding; housing policy; private sector; residential; urban development; developer; housebuilder; economic history; social history; London
- URL: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.480458
Between the two world wars, the built-up area of Greater London almost doubled in size. Although a distinct 'suburban trend' became increasingly obvious between 1860 and 1913, the physical dimensions of London's interwar suburban development were far greater than anything previously experienced. In spite of lower residential densities between the wars, a comparison of housebuilding levels before and after The Great War clearly reveals the scale of interwar residential development activity. Thus, in each year between 1871 and 1913, an average of 14,177 dwellings were built within the Metropolitan Police District, while between 1920 and 1937 the annual average was 41,839. In view of the unparalleled level of housebuilding activity between the wars, it seems extraordinary that the interwar speculative housebuilder and estate developer should have generally escaped the detailed attention of students interested in the history of our urban areas. The aim of the present study is to correct, at least in part, this deficiency. The interwar speculative housebuilder and his activities within the Greater London outer suburban area therefore provide the central theme for this work. It has not, in fact, been the intention of the writer to develop any single thesis in this study. Instead, the aim has been to examine and analyse various aspects of the work and characteristics of the speculative housebuilder active within the outer suburbs during these years. Conclusions have therefore been drawn at all stages of the work. Broadly speaking, what has been attempted falls into two parts. In the first section, detailed attention has been given to the results of speculative housebuilding activity, both subsidised and unsubsidised, by means of the analysis of house completion statistics. In the light of this analysis, a number of general hypotheses have been examined; and of particular importance, in view of its significance for any evaluation of 1930s housing policy, is the examination in Chapter 4 of the controversy concerning the role of the private sector in the provision of working-class dwellings, especially working-class dwellings to let. In the second section of the work the emphasis has shifted. Firstly, in Chapters 5 and 6, it has shifted to a consideration of the characteristics of interwar housebuilders in terms of their background prior to venturing into speculative housebuilding, their spatial and temporal origins, and the structure of the industry within two outer suburban areas. While, secondly, in Chapters 7 to 10, it has turned to an examination and analysis of the operations of interwar speculative housebuilders. The scope of the work has, in fact, necessitated the concentration of the study on certain aspects of these operations only, and it was decided to focus on the work of housebuilders in the earlier stages of the speculative residential development process. An investigation has, therefore, been undertaken in Chapters 8 to 10 of those aspects of the speculative housebuilder's activities which involved land, its availability and its acquisition for housebuilding purposes. While, in Chapter 7, an examination of speculative land development activity has been undertaken, during which attention has been given to the characters involved in the process and, particularly, to the role and involvement of the speculative housebuilder. The final chapter commences with an examination and discussion of the social and economic forces which underlay the trend and fluctuations in private housebuilding activity between the wars. The study is concluded by the bringing together and the summary of the conclusions which have been drawn from the investigations and analyses throughout the work, and by the suggestion of a number of possible directions that future work might take.