‘Rab­bit hutch’ trend in Bri­tish hous­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - OLINKA KOSTER

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

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