Independent examiner says Boris must relent on “hobbit homes” ban

London mayor Boris Johnson may be forced to water down proposed space standards for new private housing in London, despite a high-profile campaign against new build “hobbit homes” in the capital.

The independent panel report from the London Plan enquiry, published today, said that space standards proposed by the mayor should change from being a required “minimum” to being an “indicative” guide to aspire to.

If adopted, the proposals could also see the introduction of an approved new super high density studio flat of just 37m2 in size, a long way below the original 50m2 minimum.

The report said it was concerned that implementing space standards rigidly would further worsen the affordability of homes in London, and could impact upon the number of homes built. It also found that the mayor’s powers did not extend to directing boroughs to specify precise minimum space standards, and should be limited to ensuring “general conformity” with the mayor’s plans, and being used to judge large “strategic” applications decided by the mayor.

It also said the London Plan should “provide for one bedroom/studio units with an indicative floorspace of 37m2.”

The mayor is shortly due to publish his revised plan incorporating the changes, which will then be sent to the communities department for final approval within six weeks. It is not yet known whether Johnson, who has made a point of trying to increase housing sizes, will try to fight the recommendations of the independent panel.

In 2009 Johnson said: “For too long we have built homes to indecently poor standards - fit neither for Bilbo Baggins nor his hobbit friends - and that is indefensible.

“The finest city in the world deserves the finest housing for its inhabitants and when we get it wrong it can scar generation after generation.

“Today marks the start of reversing that downward trend and raising the bar, not just in publicly funded, but all new homes built in London”.

If Johnson does water down the plans it will be the second time his ambitions have been reduced – he has already abandoned plans to force all new homes to have windows on more than one aspect.