A recent study has revealed that new build homes in Britain offer the smallest room sizes in Europe. The study by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), the Government’s advisor on architecture, has revealed that not only is the overall room size getting smaller but also the overall house size. It found that newly built properties are so cramped that they do not have enough room for the owners to cook, have round guests or generally relax.
The Commission surveyed 2,500 people living in private houses built between 2003 and 2006. Of those questioned 57% said that there was not enough storage space, 47% said that there was not enough space for furniture, 35% said that there was not enough kitchen space for appliances and 44% of owners said that they did not have enough space for children to play in the kitchen while meals were being prepared.
Richard Simmons, CABE chief executive, commenting on the survey results said: “This research brings into question the argument that the market will meet the demands of people living in private housing developments. We need local planning authorities to ensure much higher space standards before giving developments the go-ahead.”
The survey also found that 37% of owners said that their children did not have enough space to entertain their friends in private and 72% of those questioned said that they did not have enough space for three small recycling bins. The researchers said that poorer households were more likely to suffer from a lack of space and speculated that an increase in space could have educational and health benefits. One example of this is when families have the space to eat together; it can encourage healthier eating and help build a stronger family unit.
The CABE survey was done on properties in London or within one hour’s travel time of London. So how much smaller are our properties than those of abroad? The average room in a newly built dwelling in France is 26.9 square metres, compared to 15.8 square metres in the UK. France is not the most spacious in Europe though; Denmark boasts the title of most spacious living accommodation in western Europe with Ireland being the second worst (still having 15% more space than the UK). Going further afield, beyond the EU, the comparison gets even more pitiful with the average floor space of a newly built UK home being less than half of the Australian or USA equivalent.
Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any help coming from the direction of the Government. Their studies have told them that in order to build houses that people can actually afford; they need to be the smallest dwellings in the EU. When quizzed on the subject, Ellis Woodman, curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale, said: “England and Wales are the only parts of Europe where house-building is unregulated by legally binding minimum space standards. That oversight is all too indicative of the failure of successive British Governments to ensure that we are well housed.”