RIBA calls for an end to 'tiny rabbit-hutch-new-builds'

More than half of the new homes being built today are not big enough to meet the needs of the people who buy them, according to new research published today by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

This squeeze on the size of our houses is depriving thousands of families of the space needed for them to live comfortably and cohesively, to eat and socialise together, to accommodate a growing family or ageing relatives, or even to store possessions including everyday necessities such as a vacuum cleaner.

RIBA’s #HomeWise - Space Standards for Homes published today, reveals on average buyers of a new three bedroom home are missing 4 sqm – that’s the size of a family bathroom. While the smallest three bedroom homes surveyed by RIBA are missing space equivalent to an entire double bedroom.

Homes in Yorkshire are by far the smallest in England - the average new three bedroom home in Yorkshire is 25 sq smaller than one in London. At only 84 sqm, the average new home in Yorkshire is smaller than one on London by the equivalent of a double bedroom and a family living room.

RIBA is using this research to make the case for an urgent amendment in legislation currently passing through Parliament to end to the building of sub-standard homes.

In October 2015 new rules were introduced to allow local authorities to set minimum sizes (space standards) for new homes, but the process is extremely complex and onerous, says RIBA.

The report stated: "The level of administration required means that it will take several years for local authorities to adopt any changes."

The space standard doesn’t apply to all new homes, for example for housing developments that are created under new rights that allow the change of use from office to residential use.

RIBA is now calling for a national space standard that applies to all homes, in every location.

RIBA president, Jane Duncan, said: “Tiny rabbit-hutch new-builds should be a thing of the past. But sadly our research shows that for many people, a new home means living somewhere that’s been built well below the minimum space standard needed for a comfortable home.

“We urgently need new homes, but building small homes or cutting corners when converting office buildings to flats is short-sighted and fails the people these new homes are meant to serve. The Government must take action to ensure a fairer minimum space standard is applied to all new homes across the country.”

RIBA is campaigning for the national minimum space standard to be embedded within Building Regulations that set the standards for housing design.

This would mean that all new homes across the country would be covered.

RIBA believs a regulatory approach would create a level playing field and a fair housing offer wherever people live, irrespective of tenure.

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