Could tiny homes help solve the housing crisis?
Earlier this week we blogged about last month's extension to permitted development rights. A major issue that PD has thrown up in the past is space standards, with some developers accused of exploiting the relaxation of planning rules to build very small residential units. The Government has taken this on board and all new homes in England delivered through PD must now meet national space standards. This means that a new one bedroom flat with a shower room must be built on a floorplate of at least 37m2 or 39m2 with a bathroom. In London, different rules apply and homes must be slightly larger.
Most of us would probably automatically assume that when it comes to housing, bigger is better - but is it? In a country where home ownership is increasingly out of reach for many people, there is an argument for building homes in a range of sizes, rather than being prescriptive about minimum space requirements. Single people – and some couples - may be happy to live in a very small home if that meant they could afford to buy rather than rent.
The tiny homes movement in the USA, Canada and Australia has proved that with the right design, very small homes can be an ideal solution to problems of housing affordability. By using clever storage and space-saving innovations such as modular staircases, compact appliances, roll-out tables and pocket doors, a huge amount can be packed into a very small area. Compliance with safety and energy efficiency regulations in tandem with design and build standards, should be enough to ensure that just because a home is small the quality of the build can still be high.
The tiny homes movement is only just starting to take off in the UK and a call for councils to designate specific areas for very small homes is gaining momentum. This is an interesting idea that could gain traction – it’s certainly something that deserves wider discussion.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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