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  5. 15 September 2011
  6. Architects slam ‘shoe box’ modern homes

Architects slam ‘shoe box’ modern homes

Business leader Sir John Banham is to head-up a major new inquiry into British homes as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) launched its HomeWise campaign, fuelled by concern that too many new homes are too small.

According to the institute’s just-published research, the average new three-bedroom home currently being built by the UK's top house builders is around eight per cent smaller than the basic recommended minimum size, leaving thousands of people across the country short-changed.

The research (‘Case for Space’) uses a benchmark based on the London Plan space standards for a two-storey, three bedroom home big enough for five people.

RIBA claims that the ‘squeeze on size’ is depriving thousands of families the space needed for children to do homework, adults to work from home, guests to stay and for members of the household to relax together.

The research also highlighted that most common new three-bedroom homes are smaller still at only 77 per cent of the recommended size.

RIBA has now set up the Future Homes Commission, a national inquiry chaired by Sir John, which aims to build a comprehensive picture about what people want and need from their homes.

RIBA chief executive Harry Rich said: “Our homes should be places that enhance our lives and well-being.

“However, as our new research confirms, 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.”

However, developers have taken issue both with the research and the architects’ campaign. A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation claimed the report failed to ask the right questions on land supply and the planning system.

HBF executive chairman, Stewart Baseley, said: "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 ensure that they fully understand the pressures on land and viability that home builders face every day”.

The full RIBA Case for Space report and other resources is available from RIBA’s dedicated HomeWise website.

Read the Executive Summary from the Case for Space.

Roger Milne

15 September 2011