Home Sweet Home: Exploring Bournville Village, the first planned and balanced community.

Together we are Forbes


30 March, 2021

Laura Rae

As schools break up for the Easter holidays this week - and chocolate filled weekends approach for many, this has got our team thinking about the contribution chocolatiers Cadbury have made to the housing sector… The chocolate box village of Bournville adopts a unique approach to development and affordable housing, attracting interest beyond its routes as host to one of the most renowned chocolate factories in the world. Historically, Bournville, managed by the Bournville Village Trust (BVT), is celebrated by many for applying a balanced approach to housing and prioritising consistency in its community, allowing many to enjoy the area for years to come.

Many will be aware of Bournville Village's historic routes, mainly as a community for the workers of Cadbury's chocolate factory. The idea was founded by George Cadbury, whose objective was to build decent quality, affordable homes to house Cadbury factory workers. George Cadbury wanted to develop a community that moved away from traditional, cramped, inner-city living by building larger homes with modern interiors and sufficient garden space, prioritising the needs of his workers and low-income families. In doing so, he created the world's first planned and balanced community. As time has moved on and housing prices have risen, BVT's commitment to affordable housing has remained, meaning it continues to attract a variety of residents to its unique and traditional village setting.

Birmingham is home to some of the largest private rental homes outside of London and with house prices in the area growing at an exponential rate, it has always a real risk that Bournville may become separated from its routes as a balanced community. BVT's consistent commitment to affordability has seen a range of properties developed in the area, including homes available for outright purchase, rental homes and shared ownership homes. Alongside this, Bournville remains true to the ideals of George Cadbury, with homes and businesses in the community subject to stringent restrictions on their use, including restrictions on business use and exterior alterations. Quite uniquely, Bournville properties differ in restriction, making each property different from the last, much like a box of chocolates. With many being leasehold homes, BVT applies a community-wide approach to property design and development, ensuring that the look, placement and practically of housing alterations are consistent with the original property design. Included in this is a strict approach to the type of materials used, to prioritise the village's natural surroundings. In addition, Bournville boasts two conservation areas which allows residents to benefit from green, open spaces. Alongside this is a number of listed buildings, afforded additional legal protection. Whilst this may traditionally cause a headache for developers, homebuyers and business owners alike, the restrictions in the area intrigue many and allow the community to sustain its original form.

Despite its traditional routes and the scepticism of some, BVT continues to implement the unwavering commitment of its founder, George Cadbury, to development, progress and innovation and continues to light the torch for balanced living. With the numbers of affordable housing properties in Bournville continuing to increase, its status as a mixed community, catering for all needs, remains strong. Now with BVT investing in sites further afield, including Lightmoor Village in Trafford, it is clear that the approach to balanced and affordable living in Bournville continues to make an impression across the UK, far beyond its chocolate making heritage.

For more information contact Laura Rae in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772 220221. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Housing & Regeneration department here

Changes to the Right to Buy policy - does it go far enough?

MATs: are they all that?

Contact Us

Get in touch to see how our experts could help you.

Call0800 689 3206

CallRequest a call back

EmailSend us an email

Contacting Us

Monday to Friday:
09:00 to 17:00

Saturday and Sunday: