The Garden Village movement, initiated by the ideas of Ebenezer Howard around the turn of the century, recognised that houses required sufficient space around them to provide gardens and to admit light, sunshine and fresh air for the health and well-being of the occupants.
It was originally intended that Chorltonville would provide these improved conditions together with new recreational space for residents from the Hulme area of the city. However, the requirements of the building bye-laws of the time were exceeded to such a degree that the houses became occupied by professional people from other areas.
The estate extends to over 14 hectares (36 acres including a 5.5 acre recreation field) with approximately 260 houses. It was developed independently and privately by J. H. Dawson and W. J. Vowles, who had various businesses in Hulme. Together they set up an estate agency and initially built the Darley Hall estate in south Manchester with Thomas Whiteley, a building contractor, the brother-in-law of Dawson.
They visited other garden villages for inspiration before carrying out the development of Chorltonville. In turn, their ideas were carried out by Albert Cuneo, a young Manchester architect who designed the fifteen basic house types constructed at Chorltonville.
The estate was opened in October 1911 by two Members of Parliament, Henry Nuttall and Dr Charles Leach. The houses were not for sale but were rented from £24 per annum.
Legal restrictive covenants were introduced, which meant that the new owners were limited in the amount of alterations they could carry out as well as being prevented from using their premises for commercial purposes. As a further protective measure, an association of residents was formed to maintain the roads, paths, verges and trees.
Despite these measures it was considered desirable to give the estate further protection with the designation of conservation area status in order to maintain the area's character.