London mayor lays out 73 criteria all new homes in the capital will have to meet

The London Development Agency has finally published controversial new standards it will ultimately expect all new homes built in the capital to meet.

The standards, contained in the London Housing Design Guide published today, will stipulate 73 specific requirements, from minimum space and ceiling heights, to mandatory cycle parking provision.

Meeting the standard will be mandatory for homes receiving social housing funding from April 2011, but ultimately all homes will be affected by the guidance as Mayor Boris Johnson intends to incorporate the guide in the London Plan.

As predicted by Building in March, the plan does row back on some suggestions from the draft design guide, including that all flats should have windows in more than one side, and relaxes the space requirements, following protests from developers.

The design guide says that only north-facing homes, homes subject to excessive noise, or those with three or more bedrooms, will have to be dual aspect. It says all new flats will have to be at least 50m2, all new homes at least 83m2. Developers will also have to limit water consumption in new flats to 105 litres of water per day, and say how the homes will avoid overheating in a future hotter climate.

Alex Ely, partner at Mae Architects, part of the consultant team working up the design guide for the London Development Agency, said he was pleased the mayor had stuck to his guns by introducing rigorous new standards. “I’m pleased the mayor is still interested in pushing standards in London – and this guide is a good benchmark. We did pretty robust viability testing on this.”

Launching the guide, Boris Johnson said it was “shameful” how poorly designed housing in the capital had been. He said:  “These guidelines will raise the standard of living for thousands of Londoners, ensuring brighter and more spacious living conditions, particularly for the growing number of larger families. This is the first step towards ridding London of the tiny, substandard housing which can blight communities for generations. Designers are now free to create innovative homes which are fit for this great city and its inhabitants.”

The Riba welcomed the guide, saying the space standards contained in it were “crucial”, and had to be extended to private housing as well. Andy von Bradsky, chairman of housing architect PRP, said the final version had addressed many of the concerns of architects and developers that the earlier draft was too prescriptive.

He said: “They’ve taken account of some of the concerns that have been raised - and there are some welcome relaxations here, such as the number of smaller units allowed on a scheme, and the size of balconies.”

However, he said it was still too early to say what the impact of the standard would be on development viability. He said: “We’ll have to see how this works out in practice, and no doubt some of it will be challenged.”