New housing design guide that sets minimum space requirements is welcomed by RIBA president

Today's London Housing Design Guide launch marks the end of poor quality housing in London.

Mæ architects have worked on the guide with the London Development Agency (LDA) in order to provide simpler guidance on housing design, setting a new benchmark for the design and quality of London's housing.

Based around six themes of density, family housing, proportion of streets, local transport and services access, flexibility of space, day lighting, and private open space, the guide promotes deeper consideration of architectural, environmental and aesthetic qualities of homes.

New homes will now be built to a minimum space requirement, ensuring individuals and families have sufficient storage and internal space, adequate balcony sizes and floor to ceiling heights, increasing the flexibility and functionality of their homes.

The introduction of equal standards between private and social housing facilitates transfer between the sectors, allowing private builders to shift unsold homes to compensate for the massive shortfall in affordable housing.

Speaking about the new guidelines, Sunand Prasad, president of the RIBA said: “For many years, commentators have drawn attention to the urgent need to address low-quality housing developments in London and the UK more generally. The Mayor of London is demonstrating leadership and commitment by promoting this up to date and practical guide to set minimum design standards that should be adopted for all contemporary London homes”.

The LDA acknowledge the present difficulties confronted by the development industry, and are keen to promote the new standards as incentives to investment rather than burdens on resources.

A development can suffer major budgetary drains due to changing requirements. The guidelines hope to ensure consistency and early clarity on standards will increase certainty and reduce costs.

Boris 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.”

Alex Ely, partner at Mæ, said: “The resulting guide has distilled the plethora of existing guidance into a more manageable set of key requirements, focusing on the factors that will make the most difference to the quality of housing within the unique context of London.”