Room to breathe

12th December, 2015

In October this year the government's National Described Minimum Space Standards came into force. These are a set of standards that set out the minimum sizes for new build residential properties. Along with giving limits for overall internal floor areas, the standards also set out targets in relation to the provision of bed spaces, heights of living spaces and provision of storage.

On average, many new homes produced at present do not meet these space standard requirements, which set the minimum size of a 1 bed flat at 37m2, a 2 bed 3 person house at 70mand a 3 bed 5 person house at 93m2. Research by the RIBA showed that outside of London, which already has its own minimum space standard, a 3 bed 5 person house was on average 4m2 below the standard. Their report also criticised national discrepancies whereby a 3 Bed house built in Yorkshire can be 25msmaller than a comparable house in London. 

National described standards can give certainty to Architects, Planners, Councils and Developers when beginning to undertake housing projects. Space is also an important factor in ensuring a good quality of life for home owners who want to live in comfortably designed homes with room to store their possessions. On the other side a potential disadvantage of the standards is that, as we have a national shortage of housing, further regulation that potentially restricts the amount of housing developers are able to build could be problematic.

The adoption of the standards however is optional. It is a Planning rather than a Building Regulations requirement and therefore the onus is on the Local Planning Authorities to include it as a requirement within their local plans. The Government also state that the inclusion of the standards in the local plan need to be conditional on an identified evidenced based need for them. Local Authorities must consider local need, viability and the timing of their potential implementation. Therefore the speed of uptake by Local Authorities is likely to be fairly slow, however many will already have similar policies in place and the standards may be incorporated when their local plans come up for review. Even if implemented in the local plan there is scope for developers on a site to site basis to challenge the standards if they affect the financial viability of a scheme.

Ensuring that the homes we live are of an appropriate size is important and at Pro Vision we always strive to ensure that, whatever the size of housing, it should well designed, thought through and detailed to ensure that people can live in and enjoy beautifully designed homes. We also always strive to work alongside developers in producing schemes that meet their aspirational and financial needs appropriately balancing the requirements of national policy and client needs.