Bournville Trust safe from Kraft plans thanks to George Cadbury
The head of a housing trust set up by George Cadbury in 1900 today promised its 8,000 homes would be safe under a Kraft takeover.
Peter Roach, the chief executive of Bournville Village Trust (BVT) – the oldest housing association in the country – said its founder had “wisely” set it up independently from his chocolate factory.
He said the organisation was committed to serving its “robust community”, made up of a population of 25,000 people living in some 7,500 mixed tenure properties. Mr Roach, who has been in his post for seven years, shared the community’s fears over job losses but said the village would survive.
He said: “On a personal note, I share the general concern of most people who live and work in this community.
“I know it is purely speculation in terms of what Kraft’s intentions might be, the takeover hasn’t happened yet.
“Who knows, another bid could be lurking around the corner.
“Putting those worries to one side, BVT was set up by George Cadbury in 1900 completely independently from the factory which was a very wise decision.
“So in a sense we are interested observers in the same way other people are interested observers. I’m very much concerned but that’s just in terms of employment prospects for the people who work at the factory.
"I’m not concerned for the future of this community. It is a robust community that is well served by us and that commitment will continue.”
While Cadbury has no family members on its board, the current chairman of BVT is George’s great-grandson Roger Cadbury and six other relatives make up the other 11 trustees.
Philanthropist Cadbury built his model village in what was then open country in the county of Worcestershire on the principle that everyone had the right to a good home with a garden.
Anyone could live there – not just his workers, and their first inhabitants included inner-city slum dwellers. His initial project consisted of 143 houses and he provided all the capital to buy the land.
Mr Roach said it was not known how many Cadbury workers live on the land, which is currently running a residents’ census for the first time in its history with the results due in six months.
The ratio of owners to tenants on the estate is about 50:50 with rent payments costing on average £70 to £80 a week.
He said: “George Cadbury’s vision was very much related to housing need. It was never an elitist place, it was always going to be a well-balanced community.”
Dennis Carson, who has been a tenant with his wife Theresa since 1957, said generations of families live on the estate and even his childhood friends have remained.
The 76-year-old retired advertising rep, of Lower Moor, whose father Jack and son David used to work at Cadbury, said: “We are very fortunate that George Cadbury had the foresight to set up this independent body to run the village so whatever happens to the factory there was no problem for residents.
“It was an experiment when George Cadbury started which has succeeded tremendously and we are very lucky to live here.”