Research on new private housing finds some dwellings a third smaller than proposed sizes

More than eight out of 10 private homes built in the South-east fail to meet the Homes and Communities Agency’s draft space standards, according to research conducted by housing consultancy HATC.

This will give more ammunition to those arguing for stronger regulation to ensure housebuilders build decently sized dwellings.

The research, the first of its type to look in detail at the size of homes produced by the private sector, also found that housebuilders’ marketing literature tended to treat rooms below 10m2 as double bedrooms despite the fact that this counts as overcrowding under the 1985 Housing Act. It also found that the smallest dwellings were a third smaller than the HCA’s proposed standards.

The research was based on a detailed survey of nearly 100 homes across six housing types. In some, such as two-bedroom homes designed for four people outside London, no homes met the HCA’s standard.

Andrew Drury, managing director at HATC, said: “If a lack of regulation means we end up building properties that people don’t really want to live in outside of a property bubble, then maybe we do need some form of regulation.”

He added: “At the moment, space is not a requirement of the planning system so that when the pressure is on it’s space that gets squeezed.”

The HCA’s draft standards are above the Parker Morris standards drawn up in the sixties. Although outside the capital this will apply only to social housing and homes on HCA land, Building understands that standards being proposed by mayor Boris Johnson for all homes in London will be merged with the HCA’s.

The news comes as a group of architects and consultants have backed mandatory publication of detailed information on the size of new homes. The group includes architects HTA and PRP, Design for Homes and Yolande Barnes, director of research at Savills. The aim would be to avoid the need for more regulation.