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Will nationwide minimum space standards resolve the housing crisis?

Will nationwide minimum space standards resolve the housing crisis?

A Royal Institute of British Architects campaign are set to introduce a minimum space standards for new-build homes might have won government support but it has not impressed homebuilders.

The Department for Communities and Local Government recently completed a consultation on housing standards, setting out the government’s vision for a single national space standard including bedroom sizes, ceiling heights and storage.

The UK has the smallest homes in Western Europe, according to RIBA. The royal institute is keen to promote the concept of larger homes, saying they provide peace, privacy for children to study and play as well as flexible homes able to adapt to the needs of an ageing population.

The average home in the UK is 85 square metres in comparison with 115 square metres in the Netherlands and 137 square metres in Denmark.

Paramount Investments have highlighted the affects of a minimum space standards below:

More space means greater expense

But some experts have raised concerns about the idea of having minimum national standards. The Home Builders Federation, for example, claims that space standards would likely make new houses more expensive, affecting affordability. First-time buyers and those on low incomes would be especially impacted.

First-time buyers are unlikely to need larger family homes at this initial stage. After all, “starter homes” are not designed to accommodating a family.

The HBF says that slashing unnecessary rules and regulations down to just five core housebuilding standards would free developers from red tape and let them get on with their main job of building the right homes.

Housing crisis 

RIBA president Angela Brady has said that even though the country is in the grip of the worst housing crisis in decades, governments must not reduce current standards and allow builders to construct poor quality homes with bad space and a lack of natural light.

However, the RIBA’s campaign is not necessarily the answer. Less than 10% of the greenbelt is currently built on, meaning that there’s a lot more scope to construct bigger homes in the UK. These would perfectly suit those looking for their second home, rather than possibly pushing prices up by building larger new builds in cities.

The government said in November that it accepts RIBA’s proposals and will be considering what next steps to take. London already has minimum standards for housing, but the government is expected to roll them out across the UK.

Image credit: Robert Holmes

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