Boris Johnson calls for London homes to be 10 per cent larger

New housing design guide went out for public consultation last week

The housing industry and architects have welcomed the London Housing Design Guide, published last week by London mayor Boris Johnson’s office, despite some feeling that new proposals on space standards do not go far enough.

The guidelines, unveiled on 8 July, mean that all publicly funded homes built in the capital from 2011 will be 10 per cent larger than the famed 1961 Parker Morris standard. It is hoped that the guide’s recommendation will extend to private sector homes as part of a revised London Plan.

The housing industry gave the guidelines a cautious welcome. A spokesperson for the British Property Federation said: ‘Putting extra demands on the struggling housebuilders may impact on delivery in the short-term. Nevertheless, it is vital to take difficult decisions that can secure the market in the long-term.’

The guide sets out six key areas that new developments will have to address, including family housing, street proportion, density, flexibility of space, day lighting, and private open space.

Alex Ely, partner at mæ architects – the practice which drew up the new guidelines – said the guide reduces existing guidance from over 300 recommendations to just 71. He said: ‘The advantage is that, because there is clarity, developers know what is coming and can review their business plans. Ultimately [any extra costs] will come out of the cost of the land.’

Dale Sinclair, director at Dyer, questioned the report’s prejudiced criticism of single-aspect flats: ‘Dual-aspect units require additional stairs, lifts and external walls or an increase in deck access. With developers unable to offset risk, will this also increase costs?’

Dominic Papa, partner at architecture practice S333, said: ‘A lot of the forward-thinking developers we are working with are looking at English Partnerships standards plus 10 or 20 per cent. Why is [the guide] not more ambitious?’

The London Housing Design Guide is out for consultation until 30 September.

The AJ will publish a feature on the making of the London Housing Design Guide in AJ 30.07.09.

Key areas of design that new developments will address:

• Spaces between and around buildings

• Mix of housing sizes, types, tenures and densities

• Design of entrances and circulation areas to design out crime

• Minimal internal space standards – up to 10 per cent higher than 1961 Parker Morris benchmark

• Comfort levels – homes to be quieter, lighter and better ventilated

• Design of homes to tackle climate change

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