RIBA calls for space and light standards
in UK new build housing


Jubilee Line Tube carriage, photo by Andy Wilkes

News: campaigners are calling on the UK government to protect and expand minimum housing standards for space and natural light after an RIBA report revealed the average one-bed new build is only the size of a London Underground carriage.

An upcoming ministerial review could result in the government reducing or even abolishing the UK's limited housing standards, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) today warned as it ramped up its Homewise campaign for better quality homes.

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Channel 4 show Grand Designs, filmed a short video on a Tube train to emphasise the cramped conditions of modern new builds and encourage the public to lobby their MPs.

An RIBA report, The Case for Space, recently revealed that the average one-bedroom new build home in the UK is 46 square metres – the same size as a Jubilee Line train carriage on the London Underground (above) – making them the smallest in western Europe.

Currently, London is the only place in the UK to have introduced legal minimum space standards for both public and private housing. Outside of the capital, minimum space standards only apply to publicly funded social housing.

"The country is in the grip of the worst housing crisis in decades," said RIBA president Angela Brady. "In their rush to build the government must avoid the temptation to reduce current standards and give the go-ahead for builders to produce another generation of poor quality homes, without adequate space and natural light."

Campbell Robb, chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, said: "Britain is one of the only countries in western Europe without space standards for house building, so it's no wonder our new homes are the some of the smallest in the continent."

British architect Terry Farrell was recently chosen to lead an independent review of the UK's architecture policy, while earlier this year fellow architect Richard Rogers called on architects, planners and developers to redevelop brownfield sites and empty offices to help solve the UK's housing crisis.

Photograph is by Andy Wilkes.

  • Luke

    How London-centric are the RIBA? About the size of a Tube carriage – nice one!
    Brownfield development will be the future for most cities (not just London) but there needs to be a land tax to incentivise this development.

  • Expat

    Lulz socialism…

  • Local councils need to take this into much more serious consideration for areas outside of London as well. Living in Cardiff, a lot of people don’t seem to take it into consideration that continued building upwards will ruin the area for people who have lived there for a long time. The same goes for Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

  • Thank you for using my picture and the accreditation. Andy

  • Size isn’t everything. Good design plays a vital role too. It is true that, generally speaking, the mass market houses that the industry is building today are too small and too little consideration is given to the interior design and layout, but simply making them bigger (and therefore more expensive) without improving design standards risks missing an important opportunity for this generation of architects to produce the next highly desirable generation of homes, creating the popular Victorian homes of the future, which generations will praise for their flexibility and longevity in years to come.

  • pod

    Yeah. Better to spend life making money on a huge flat with huge windows from every side than actually do something useful and interesting.

  • What about RIBA’s size?