The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) today calls for national minimum space standards in all new-build housing, whether it is privately or publicly funded. This is further to recommendations by CABE in their new research publication Space in new homes: what residents think.
Jointly commissioned by CABE and English Partnerships with the RIBA, the report draws attention to the significant implications of inadequate space in private homes, raising the question of whether many new homes are actually fit for purpose.
The following findings are of key interest to the RIBA:
- The absence of any national minimum space standards, or specifications for minimum floor space for privately developed homes in England has resulted in what CABE would consider to be a growth in properties with inadequate space
- Research by The Policy Exchange indicates that levels of space in the home in England are near the bottom of the range in comparison with other European countries
- Those who can't afford to buy or move to larger homes are most likely to have to live with the negative effects of space constraints
- Forty seven per cent of all respondents, and 58 per cent of those in fully occupied homes don't have enough space for all the furniture they own
- Fifty seven per cent of all respondents and 69 per cent of fully occupied households don't have sufficient storage in their homes to accommodate everything they need to store.
- Thirty five per cent of all respondents say that they don't have enough kitchen space for the appliances that they want or need, such as toasters or microwaves
- 67 per cent of homes now have open plan living/dining areas; the figure is 87 per cent for fully occupied households
The RIBA will be working with CABE on a number of proposals, including
- Work to understand best practice in the internal and external layout of homes to make best use of space available and minimise the cost impact of building larger homes
- Explore successful continental examples of minimum space standards to understand how in practice they might work in England and the impact they might have economically, socially and environmentally.
- Promote the provision of better information for consumers about the size of the homes they are buying.
"This report by CABE is a very important first step into reviewing the condition of current private housing stock, and how people are using their space; it comes as little surprise that residents have reported that they have insufficient space for their basic daily activities and needs," said Ewan Willars, Head of Policy at the RIBA. "It is important to ask whether the private market is meeting the demands of consumers. This research shows that the current system is not working for many, and that consumers are not getting the internal space they require.
Compared with the average sizes of homes in Europe, the UK consistently fares badly; the average floor space of a new dwelling in England and Wales is 76msq, compared with an average 92msp in Japan or 115msp in Holland - both countries with just as much pressure on land. Bringing in national minimum space standards for all housing means creating homes for people that have space to sit down and eat together, and store away their ironing board. We want to champion well designed homes that are functional and adaptable spaces that meet the needs of families, children, older people and disabled residents. We want Local Authorities to lead the way in introducing minimum space standards, through their planning departments and ultimately for the Government to introduce national standards for all homes."