Town Planning, Leasing & Layout
Here we see how Georgian and Regency London houses were planned and how the ground and the houses built on it were leased. We look at the kinds or ‘Rates’ of houses which were built and a plan for a development in Alfred Place. We see a typical streetscape of the period in Blackfriars Bridge Road and a design for the elevations for The Royal Terrace, Adelphi, a particularly grand and important development in London.
We also see a view of Fitzroy Square which was designed by Adam to look like a series of grand palaces rather than a simple row of identical terraced houses.
Types or ’Rates’ of London Houses
The Building Act of 1774 set out how houses in London were to be built. They had to be constructed of brick or stone to prevent fires (almost the whole of London had burnt down in 1666); the sizes of rooms and layouts were standardised and four types or ‘rates’ of houses were specified: First Rate Houses were worth over £850 per year in ground rent and occupied over 900 square feet of space. These houses faced streets and lanes. Second Rate Houses were worth between £350 and £850 in ground rent and occupied 500-900 square feet of floor space. They faced streets, lanes of note, and the Thames. Third Rate Houses were smaller houses worth around £150-£300 and occupied 350-500 square feet. They faced principal streets. Fourth Rate Houses were worth less than £150 per year in ground rent and occupied less than 350 square feet.
Foreign visitors to London were surprised by how Londoners lived. A rich merchant might have the same sort of house as an aristocrat, who considered his main house to be his country seat and only lived in London part of the year. All the houses had their own front doors with well-kept hallways. In European cities people often lived in flats with dirty halls and stairs rather like some blocks of flats in London today.