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The Royal Institute of British Architects has criticised the "shoe box" sized homes now being built in Britain. Ahead of its inquiry into housing needs, RIBA claims that many of the new homes being constructed are too small for the number of people expected to live in them.
The institute says the average new three-bedroom house is 8% smaller than the recently adopted standard for homes in London, with floor space of 88 sq metres (947 sq ft). That is 8 sq metres short of the recommended space, the equivalent of a single bedroom.
One-bedroom properties, at an average of 46 sq metres, are 4 sq metres short of the recommended size, it adds in its recent report The Case for Space.
RIBA suggests that potential buyers are being short-changed and fobbed off with "shameful shoe box homes".
The London Housing Design Guide, adopted in the past year or so, lays down, among other features, minimum space standards for new properties, based on factors such as the average quantity of furnishings as well as number of occupants.
The RIBA inquiry, to be conducted by Sir John Banham, a former director-general of the CBI and former chair of the Tarmac group, is expected to report by next summer and will feed into the government's proposals to alter planning rules. The inquiry will seek the views of architects, builders, planners and purchasers.
Banham said: ""There are some fundamental issues that need to be addressed to ensure we have more of the right kind of affordable homes in villages, towns and cities … new thinking and financing approaches will be needed."
Anna Scott-Marshall, RIBA's head of policy, said that the organisation's Future Homes Commission would address issues such as housing costs, building quality, design and layout, including factors such as the amount of light in a property.
"We need to look into affordability and the mechanisms that need to be in place to enable people to buy," she said.
Author: The Guardian, 14 September 2011.
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