London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Acton 1936

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Acton]

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were used for both living and sleeping purposes. If used for sleeping
only, the figures were 300 cubic feet for adults and 150 cubic feet
for children. In 1934, these bye-laws were revised, and floor space
was adopted as the standard; each adult was to be provided with
40 square feet and 30 square feet for each child.
Other authorities adopted bye-laws in which the standard
was sometimes based upon cubic capacity and at other times upon
superficial area. But under the Act of 1935, definite standards
are laid down below which overcrowding is presumed to exist, and
these standards are applicable to the whole country. Although
these standards have been criticised, they are an advance on the low
standards and unsatisfactory bye-laws with which most authorities
had to manage in the past.
Two standards are laid down, the first dealing with persons
per room, and the second relating the floor area of the rooms to the
number of inhabitants. The number of persons permitted to use
a house for sleeping is the lesser of the figures obtained by using
both bases of calculation. In the first schedule to the Act, the two
tables showing the method of calculation are inserted, and they are
as follows:—

Table I..

Where a house consists of:—The permitted number of persons is:—
(a) One room2
(b) Two rooms3
(c) Three rooms5
(d) Four rooms
(e) Five rooms or more10 with an additional 2 in respect of each room in excess of five.
(In using this table, a room of less than 50 square feet is not counted as a room).

Table 2.

Where a room in any house has a floor area of:—
(a) 110 sq. feet or more2
(b) 90 sq. feet or more, but less than 110
(c) 70 sq. feet or more, but less than 901
(d) 50 sq. feet or more, but less than 70½
(e) Under 50 sq. feetNil.

These tables have been criticised from both angles—insufficiency
and prodigality. On the one hand it has been held that the