In 'The Great Estate', Michael Collins the author of 'The Likes of Us: A biography of the white working class', charts the rise and fall of the council house. It's a story that begins in east London and takes in the modernist blocks in pre-war Liverpool, the post-war new towns beyond the capital's green belt, and the brutalist vision for the expansive estates – the infamous Heygate, in south east London – that emerged from the 1960s.
Collins argues that council housing had lost its way by the 1980s, and some time before the big sell-off under Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government. Ultimately it was not the architects but the people themselves that contributed to its decline. Yet in the 21st century, council housing remains on the agenda, and is currently in the throes of another chapter under the coalition government.