‘Rabbit hutch’ trend in British housing
FAMILIES are living in “rabbit hutch Britain”, with new homes offering the smallest rooms in Europe, a report warns.
It found that newly built properties are so cramped they do not provide enough space to cook, have guests around or simply relax.
And the study by the government’s design watchdog also revealed that both the average room size and overall new home sizes are getting even smaller.
The boom in the number of smaller houses and flats reflects decreasing family sizes in Britain.
The average number of people in a family has fallen from 3.1 in 1961 to 2.4 last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. The average number of people per household is even lower, at 1.9.
A hundred years ago, an average of eight family members lived under one roof, with richer households also having several servants.
However, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) says this does not account for falling room sizes and that private homes built today are “too small for everyday life”.
In a survey of 2 249 home-owners, whose properties were built between 2003 and 2006, 44 percent revealed they did not have enough space for small children to play safely while food is prepared.
Almost half claimed they did not have enough room for their furniture, while more than a third said there was not enough space in the kitchen for appliances.
The study also warned that the implications of living in such small spaces were “far reaching”, and could have an impact on health, well-being and education.
For example, there may not be enough room to dine as a family, which encourages healthier eating habits and stronger relationships, the report said.
Children without space to entertain friends will do so outside instead – with no parental supervision. Richard Simmons, chief executive of Cabe, criticised local authorities for allowing developers to build homes without ample space.
The majority of householders – 57 percent – said they did not have enough storage space, while 72 percent said they did not have enough space for three small bins required for proper recycling.
“This research brings into question the argument that the market will meet the demands of people living in private housing developments,” he said.
“We need local planning authorities to ensure much higher space standards before giving developments the go-ahead.”
The report also found that, compared with other EU states, the UK has both the smallest newly built houses and smallest average room size. In France, the average size of a room in a newly built home is 26.9m compared with the UK’s 15.8m2.
Among the smallest homes on the market recently have been Barratt Homes’ “Manhattan pods” in Harlow, Essex, which have 34m 2 of space overall and a living room measuring just 3m by 3.6m.
The study warns that many residents in new private homes do not have sufficient space for “basic daily activities” and needs. – Daily Mail