The average home being built in the West Midlands is too small for people to life comfortably, new report claims.
Fresh concerns have arisen about “rabbit hutch” new builds after researchers found new homes being constructed in the region were smaller than anywhere in the UK outside the North East.
According to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), on average, buyers of a new three-bedroom home in the region are missing almost 80 sq ft – the size of a decent family kitchen.
New rules were introduced in October, giving local authorities the option to set out minimum space standards for new homes. Under the optional standards, a three bed, five person home would be a minimum of 1,000 sq ft – but the average of new builds in this region, according to RIBA, was 922 sq ft.
The findings were made after the RIBA measured the size of new three-bedroom homes on over 100 developments under construction across England to compare them against new, optional space standards.
RIBA wants to see a national space standard automatically applied to all homes.
Researchers found the average home in the West Midlands was more than a quarter smaller than its equivalent in London.
Last week, Chancellor George Osborne unveiled a package of measures aimed at boosting housebuilding and turning “Generation Rent” into “Generation Buy”.
The Chancellor’s measures promise to be the biggest affordable housebuilding programme since the 1970s, with more than 400,000 new homes set to be built across England.
RIBA president, Jane Duncan, said: “Tiny rabbit hutch new-builds should be a thing of the past. But sadly our research shows that for many people, a new home means living somewhere that’s been built well below the minimum space standard needed for a comfortable home.
“We urgently need new homes, but building small homes or cutting corners when converting office buildings to flats is short-sighted and fails the people these new homes are meant to serve. The Government must take action to ensure a fairer minimum space standard is applied to all new homes across the country.”
The RIBA is campaigning for the national minimum space standard to be embedded within Building Regulations that set the standards for housing design to ensure that all new homes across the country would be covered.
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said that overwhelmingly, buyers of new build homes are happy with their houses and how they are designed.
He said that imposing space standards for new homes could make the “acute” housing shortage seen in recent decades worse.
Mr Baseley said: “The industry provides a wide range of house types in sizes and locations that provide choice for people on all income levels. Imposing space standards and so restricting what builders can build takes away choice from home buyers. This would not only prevent more people from buying their own home but also exacerbate the acute shortage of housing that we have experienced over several decades.
“Local elected representatives already have the power to introduce minimum house sizes where justified, and a process is in place to ensure that the needs of households are properly taken into account to deliver the homes the country needs.”