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RICS 150

13 MAY 2016

George Cadbury: Leaving a quality of life legacy

On the 9 of September 2014, George Cadbury was awarded an honorary membership of RICS for his work with the Bournville Village Trust.

George Cadbury, third son of John Cadbury, a Quaker who founded Cadbury's cocoa and chocolate company, established the Bournville Village Trust (BVT) in 1900 after he observed that the advance of towns over greenfield, if not properly planned, simply created new slums.

As a precursor to what we now know as smart cities, George Cadbury was a pioneer in responsible business by believing that everyone had a right to clean and decent work, to have a house, and to be in touch with nature.

On the back of this notion, George created the first garden city at Bournville. The houses were affordable, had gardens and were set within planned street-scapes.

The importance of a community

He wanted Bournville residents to have a sense of community and with access to good education, health and community facilities.

He was so successful that infant mortality in Bournville was almost half the national average and children were on average 8 to 9 pounds heavier and 2 to 3 inches taller than those from poorer neighbourhoods. They also had better teeth thanks to George Cadbury’s promotion of dentists – counterbalancing the effects of his chocolate.

A lasting legacy

Towns such as Post Sunlight in Cheshire and Letchworth in Hertfordshire were modelled on Bournville. They too recognised the value of good quality housing, alongside community amenities, within an attractive environment.

Over a century later, the Trust remains one of the largest and most respected in the country with an estate of over 8000 properties. It’s a not for profit housing association providing rent rented accommodation, supported housing and community facilities and is as active today as It’s ever been with numerous award winning projects.

George Cadbury’s philosophy for the Trust has been nurtured by his descendants and it remains a beacon of how the property and construction industry can work to positively transform communities.