‘Shame­ful shoe­boxes’ are squeez­ing our liv­ing space

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Sharon Dale

RE­SEARCH from RIBA (Royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects re­veals that the av­er­age new three bed­room home in York­shire is 13 square me­tres smaller than the ba­sic rec­om­mended min­i­mum size.

The Case for Space re­port says the prop­er­ties are fail­ing to pro­vide the space fam­i­lies need and leav­ing peo­ple across the re­gion short-changed.

The find­ings, based on 80 sites across Eng­land, eight of which were in York­shire, show that the av­er­age new three-bed­room home in York­shire is miss­ing the space equiv­a­lent to a dou­ble bed­room or din­ing ta­ble for six peo­ple and a three seat sofa.

The most com­mon new three bed­room home in Eng­land is smaller still at 74 square me­tres.

At only 77 per cent of the rec­om­mended size it is miss­ing 22 sq m.

The RIBA say their re­port ex­poses the lack of trans­parency ex­ist­ing around the size of UK homes. Its new Home­Wise cam­paign calls for con­sumers to de­mand bet­ter in­for­ma­tion from es­tate agents and house builders so they can choose the most ideal lay­out, size and de­sign of their new home. The or­gan­i­sa­tion also want house builders and es­tate agents to in­clude the floor area of prop­er­ties in their mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial and in­dica­tive floor plans with fur­ni­ture as well as the num­ber of bed­rooms. Fi­nally it sug­gsts that the Govern­ment to work with the house build­ing in­dus­try to pro­duce an in­dus­try­wide vol­un­tary agree­ment to en­sure data is pub­lished about the size and qual­ity of new homes.

Harry Rich, RIBA chief ex­ec­u­tive, says: “Thou­sands of cramped houses – shame­ful shoe box homes – are be­ing churned out all over the coun­try, depriv­ing house­holds of the space they need to live com­fort­ably and co­he­sively. At a time when the Govern­ment, house­build­ing in­dus­try, economists and house­buy­ers and renters are con­cerned about whether we are build­ing enough new homes in the UK, it might seem odd to sug­gest that the fo­cus should move to think­ing about the qual­ity of those homes. And yet this is the very time to do so. In a rush to build quickly and cheaply we risk stor­ing up un­nec­es­sary prob­lems for the fu­ture.

“The Home­wise Cam­paign will en­gage house­holds, ar­chi­tects, builders and pol­icy-mak­ers in a con­ver­sa­tion about how to de­liver homes to meet or ex­ceed the real needs of our pop­u­la­tion in the 21st cen­tury. This re­port is the be­gin­ning of the con­ver­sa­tion.

“We hope to ask the right ques­tions and we look for­ward to work­ing in part­ner­ship with con­sumers, house­builders, govern­ment and many oth­ers as we seek the an­swers.”

The Home Builders Fed­er­a­tion say the re­port is a missed op­por­tu­nity and con­cen­trates on hous­ing size sta­tis­tics in a vac­uum, with­out ad­dress­ing any of the is­sues be­hind them.

HBF ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, Ste­wart Base­ley says: “This re­port is a dis­ap­point­ing missed op­por­tu­nity. We’ll hap­pily work with RIBA and oth­ers but if they are se­ri­ous about the fu­ture of hous­ing in this coun­try they must sup­port the pro­posed National Plan­ning Pol­icy Frame­work and en­sure that they fully un­der­stand the pres­sures on land and vi­a­bil­ity that home builders face ev­ery day.

“Even with these con­straints de­vel­op­ers are build­ing the homes that peo­ple can af­ford, that this coun­try des­per­ately needs and pro­vid­ing bil­lions of pounds of in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture and the environment.”

The full RIBA Case for Space re­port can be down­loaded from www.be­home­wise.co.uk. The Home­Wise web­site is at www. be­home­wise.co.uk. It fea­tures a se­ries of online re­sources to help peo­ple to ask the right ques­tions when choos­ing a home.

The re­sources in­clude The Nest Test – an easy-to-use online cal­cu­la­tor that helps home seek­ers to find out what the floor area of their home should be ac­cord­ing to the rec­om­mended stan­dards.

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