This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
(31.) Scavenging of Streets, New Streets, Line of Frontage, etc. Local Authorities maw and when required by the Local Government Board, must cleanse and scavenge the streets under their control (Public Health Act, 1875,
The lines of streets are preserved by the Public Health (Building in Streets) Act. 1888, and many other matters relating to streets, etc, are regulated by the Towns Improvement Clauses Act, 1847.
Various matters relating to safety in public buildings and streets are also dealt with by the Public Health Amendment Act, 1890, whilst most offences relating to streets are provided against by the Towns Police Clauses Acts, 1847-1889.
(32.) Structure of Houses - Site of Houses. By adopting Part III. Public Health Acts Amendment Act, 1890, an Urban Authority can acquire additional powers to make by-laws with regard to the sanitary arrangements of houses, and as to certain matters of structure in the building of new houses. Rural Sanitary Authorities may adopt the same Part III., and then they have the power to make by-laws with regard to the structure of walls, foundations, and floors of new houses. The same Act prohibits the erection of new buildings on ground filled up with matter impregnated with faecal, animal, or vegetable matter, or upon deposits of such matter, unless such matter has been either removed or rendered innocuous.
(33.) Unhealthy Houses - Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890. A house in such a state as to be unfit for habitation may be closed by an Order of a Court of Summary Jurisdiction. The Order holds good until the house has been made tit for habitation, when it may then be determined by another Order permitting the use of the house (Public Health Act, 1875, § 97). A house also may be closed irrespective of sanitary condition, if two convictions for overcrowding have taken place within three months (Public Health Act, 1875, § 109).
Any dwelling-house in a state dangerous or injurious to health must be reported upon by the Medical Officer of Health to the Local Authority under the Boosing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, Part II., § 30. The County Medical Officer of Health also has the power to make such a representation to any Local Authority, save to the Authority of a Municipal Borough (ibid. §52).
A Parish Council (Local Government Act, 1894), or four or more boon-holders, may complain in writing to the Medical Officer of Health concerning a dwelling-house. The officer is bound then to inspect and report (Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, § 31). Independently of the Medical Officer of Health's voluntary action, or in obedience to a complaint, it is the duty of every Local Authority to cause to be made inspection of their district with a view to ascertain whether any dwelling-house is in an unfit state to be inhabited (ibid., § 32).
If on receipt of a representation or information that any house is unfit for habitation, and it appears to the Local Authority that the information is correct, it is then their duty to cause proceedings to be taken to close the house, "whether the same be occupied or not". After closing, provision is made for compelling the repair, or in some cases for demolishing the house. In each case ample opportunity is given for the owner (who under this Act must have at least a 21 years' interest) to be heard, and for him to appeal if he feels aggrieved (ibid., §§ 32-35).
(34.) Unhealthy Areas. A Medical Officer of Health on his own initiative, or moved thereto by a complaint of twelve or more ratepayers of the district, may make a representation to the Local Authority that a certain area in an Urban District is unhealthy - that is to say, "that any houses, courts, or alleys, are unfit for habitation, or the narrowness, closeness. and bad arrangement, or the bad condition of the streets and houses or groups of houses within such area, or the want of light, air, ventilation, or proper conveniences, or any other sanitary defects, or one or more of such causes, are dangerous or injurious to the health of the inhabitants either of the buildings in the said area or of the neighbouring buildings, and that the evils are of such a nature that they can only be remedied by an improvement scheme." The Local Authority is to take such a representation into consideration, "and if satisfied with the truth thereof and of the sufficiency of their resources ", it is their duty to pass a resolution to the effect that the area is unhealthy, and that an improvement scheme should be made (Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, Part I., §§ 4, 5). The Act provides for full publication of the scheme locally, for a Local Government inquiry, for a Provisional Order confirming the scheme, for the provision of dwelling-accommodation for the families displaced, for compensation of the owners, for the execution of the scheme, and for obtaining loans to carry the scheme out.
Small areas may be dealt with similarly under Part II. of the same Act (§ 30), the chief difference being that, if there is no opposition, the Local Government
Board may confirm the scheme by Order; otherwise, if there is opposition, the scheme can only be carried into effect by Provisional Order.
(35.) Obstructive Building's. Urban Local Authorities possess powers of widening, enlarging, or making new streets, under the Towns Improvement Clauses Act, 1847, § G7. and Public Health Act, 1875, § 154.
An obstructive building - that is, one not necessarily unhealthy in itself, but which stops ventilation, or otherwise makes or conduces to make other buildings to be in a condition unfit for human habitation, or dangerous or injurious to health, or one which prevents proper measures from being carried into effect for the remedying of any nuisance injurious to health or other evils complained of in respect of such other buildings - is to be reported upon by the Medical Officer of Health, and ample power is given to the Local Authority to purchase the obstructive building and then to pull it down. The Authority may keep the whole or part as an open site, or sell a portion of the site, or may dedicate it as a highway.