Why a Residential Estate?

“There are two principal reasons for considering the means to make it possible for more people to reside in ‘the square mile’ of the City and within easy reach of their business; firstly, the fall in the number of residents from 100,000 to 5,000 during the last hundred years has left a situation which is regarded by many as undesirable for an Authority of such standing as the City of London; secondly, the daily journey to work from distant suburbs has become for many too great a burden.”

“Barbican Redevelopment” April 1959 Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, Architects

This was not only City policy. The Minister for Housing & Local Government wrote to the Lord Mayor on 28th August 1956 with the Government’s view that the Barbican area should be developed into: “… a genuine residential neighbourhood incorporating schools, shops, open spaces and other amenities, even if this means foregoing more remunerative return on the land.”

It should also be noted that the flats were being built to let. The Corporation of London had no intention at all of selling them. Then the Tories under Margaret Thatcher came to power in the late 1970s and gave Council tenants the right to buy their Council houses at a discount. The Corporation of London was a council and the stockbrokers and bankers living in the Barbican were tenants, so they all found themselves the happy beneficiaries of social justice. Now there are almost no Corporation tenants left.