RIBA calls for tougher standards to prevent 'rabbit-hutch' homes

More than half of homes being built are too small to meet the needs of people who buy them and new national space standards should be extended to include office-to-residential conversions, a report by the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) has said.

Flats: RIBA calls for better space standards
Flats: RIBA calls for better space standards

The RIBA report warned that space constraints mean families do not have the space they need to live "comfortably and cohesively", accommodate a growing family or ageing relatives, or to store everyday items, such as a vacuum cleaner.

Its report said the average new-build three-bedroom home outside of London is 4 square metres smaller than the new nationally described space standard introduced in October.

Houses in Yorkshire were the smallest in England, it found.

The average three-bed home in Yorkshire was 25 square metres smaller than in London - the "equivalent of a double bedroom and a family living room", RIBA said.

RIBA said the new space standard does not apply to all new homes, pointing to exemptions on office-to-residential conversions.

It is urging the government to introduce a national space standard that applies to all homes, in every location.

RIBA president Jane Duncan said: "Tiny rabbit-hutch new-builds should be a thing of the past. But sadly our research shows that for many people, a new home means living somewhere that’s been built well below the minimum space standard needed for a comfortable home.

"We urgently need new homes, but building small homes or cutting corners when converting office buildings to flats is short-sighted and fails the people these new homes are meant to serve. The government must take action to ensure a fairer minimum space standard is applied to all new homes across the country."

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