Architects slam 'shameful shoe-box homes'

By Diana Pilkington
Monday 19 September 2011 11:45

Architects have criticised the "shameful shoe-box homes" being built in Britain today, saying many are too small for family life.

Research by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) found the floor area of the average new three-bedroom home in the UK is 88 sq m, some 8 sq m short of the recommended space.

One-bedroom properties, at an average of 46 sq m, are 4 sq m smaller than the recommended size, the Case For Space study found.

This is the equivalent of a single bed, a bedside table and a dressing table with a stool, the report said.

In reports published today, Riba chief executive Harry Rich said: "Our homes should be places that enhance our lives and well-being.

"However, as our new research confirms, thousands of cramped houses - shameful shoe-box homes - are being churned out all over the country, depriving households of the space they need to live comfortably and cohesively."

The institute's study of three-bedroom houses was based on a sample of 3,418 homes across 71 sites in England.

The research was based on the London Plan space standards which have recently been introduced into the capital.

However, the Home Builders Federation said bigger homes could prove unaffordable.

Andrew Whitaker, the federation's head of planning, told the BBC that increasing standards would increase costs, adding: "That's going to mean houses are going to become more expensive and we're already suffering from a lack of affordability for young people and first-time buyers."

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Developers must deliver the homes that communities need and buyers want - and that includes ensuring the homes they build meet families' needs.

"That's why ministers scrapped the minimum density targets that they argue contributed to a lack of family-sized homes and flats that are so in demand.

"But key to this is putting local communities themselves in control, which is why, under our planning reforms, neighbourhoods will be able to design and vote on their own plans for the future of their areas, giving them the chance to exercise meaningful choice over the type and size of homes that are built, and giving developers the chance to benefit from a smoother process for getting planning permission by working with local people from the start."


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