House design in the United Kingdom is defined by a series of Housing Acts, and public housing house design is defined by government directives and central governments' relationship with local authorities. From the first interventions in the Public Health Act 1875, council houses could be homes fit for heroes, general housing aimed at the working classes, general housing for all, parts of a slum clearance programme or just homes provided for the most needy. They could be funded directly, through central government incentive or by revenue obtained when other houses were sold. Increasingly, they have been transferred through the instrument of housing associations into the private sector.
Woolwich Borough Council was responsible for the Well Hall Estate designed for workers at the munition factories at Woolwich Arsenal. The estate and the house were built to the garden suburb philosophy: houses were all different. The estate received the royal seal of approval when on Friday, 24 March 1916, Queen Mary made an unannounced visit.
A programme of council house building started after the First World War following on from the David Lloyd George’s government’s Housing Act of 1919. The 'Addison Act' brought in subsidies for council house building and aimed to provide 500,000 "homes fit for heroes" within a three-year period although less than half of this target was met. The housing built comprised three-bedroom dwellings with parlour and scullery: larger properties also include a living room. The standards are based on the Tudor Walters Report of 1919, and the Design Manual written according to the 1913 building standards. In 1923 the Chamberlain Act withdrew subsidies for council houses except for private builders and houses for sale. Councils could undertake to build houses and offer these for sale but also to sell off some of their existing properties. This was essentially reversed by the incoming Labour government of 1924. The Wheatley Act (1924) passed by the new Labour Government introduced higher subsidies for council housing and also allowed for a contribution to be made from the rates. The housing revenue account was always separated from the general account. This was a major period of council house construction.
The Housing Act 1930 stimulated slum clearance, i.e., the destruction of inadequate houses in the inner cities that had been built before the 1875 Act. This released land for housing and the need for smaller two bedroomed houses to replace the two-up two-down houses that had been demolished. Smaller three bedroom properties were also built. The Housing Act 1935 led to a continuation of this policy , but the war stopped all construction, and enemy action reduced the usable housing stock.
The immediate post-war period saw the building of prefab bungalows with a design life of ten years. Innovative steel-framed properties were also tried in an attempt to speed up construction. A number survive, a testament to the durability of a series of housing designs and construction methods only envisaged to last 10 years.