UK Dopers -- Housing Estate

I’ve been reading alot of Ian Rankin lately… In describing an area he might use the phrase “housing estate.” What would a parallel phrase or word for the US be, I’m wondering? Does it mean a capitalistic development of property to be sold for profit to private owners, or is it publicly financed housing for folks in need of government assistance who don’t own but rent?


It’s a planned development of (usually suburban) privately-owned residential properties, all built at the same time and in the same architectural style. A 'burb?

I think housing tract or housing development is pretty close. Don’t let the word “estate” fool you.


Housing estate = subdivision.

Is this what we call “planned communities?” Where there are a bunch of houses all built at once that all look the same?

Those are usually private endeavours around here.

A housing estate in the U.K. is a housing development. In other words, it’s a group of houses built at the same time and usually with more or less the same plan. As in the U.S, it’s usually built by a private company. An industrial estate in the U.K. is an industrial park or an office park. In other words, it’s a group of buildings built at the same time and usually with more or less the same plan for light industry or for offices. An estate agent in the U.K. is a real estate agent. “Estate” in this terms means just “piece of property.”

That’s helpful. Thanks for the replies.

And you also have a *council estate * which is housing usually owned by the town/city council and rented out . BTW I hope you are enjoying the Rankin novels. I have just discovered them myself and am trying to catch up on all his books.

In a move to aleviate some of the grinding monotony, many recent housing estates have been built to contain an assortment of different designs; there’s one near me where there are about five different types of house (flint walls, brick, rendered, half-timbered, half-tiled etc, each with different roof profiles and materials) in an assortment of sizes, mixed together in a way that disguises, to a certain extent, the fact that it was all built together.

As this is in the context of Ian Rankin yiou should know that a “council estate” is the english term. In Scotland they are called “schemes” and a perjorative term for those who live on them is “schemie”. (Think Trainspotting for Edinburgh schemies)

The word ‘estate’ has a negative connotation due to the fact that a number of these social housing schemes were hastely and poorly conceived and a number of these places have become centres of crime, I think perhaps ‘projects’ would at least be partly analogous.

In Ireland, it’s even easier. Until recently, almost all council estates were named after something religous eg St Finbar’s Estate or the quaintly named “Fatima Mansions”. And private estates had names like “The Oaks”

This is where you get the old joke about a housing development being a place where you cut down all the trees and name the roads after them.

Here in Sarf west Lahdahn they’re all named after labour politicians.

We have a Clement Attlee Estate with a Harold Wilson House, a Manny Shinwell House, a Chuter Ede House and so on.

In Camden all the tower blocks are named after villages in the Lake District.