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Of Course British Livings Rooms Are Smaller – Planning Permissions Means Houses Are

The Guardian tells us that British houses are getting smaller. Entirely contrary to how we would expect matters to be going – richer societies usually have more room per person in dwellings and Britain is certainly richer than it was in the 1940s or 1970s. The reason for this is twofold – the law insists that new houses must be small and the law also insists that the land to build them upon must be expensive, leading again to small houses.

We’re living in rabbit hutches because the government insists we live in rabbit hutches:

The living rooms of newly built homes in Britain are nearly a third smaller than equivalent homes built in the 1970s, according to research that charts how living space has shrunk to levels last seen 80 years ago.

The research, by LABC Warranty, which provides warranties for new-build homes, found the average living room in a house built since 2010 was 17.1 square metres (184 sq ft), compared with 24.9 sq m (268 sq ft) in the 1970s, a 32% contraction.

The study also found that modern-day master bedrooms were on average 13.4 sq m (144 sq ft) in size, compared with 14.7m (158 sq ft) in the 1970s.

“Overall, Britain built the biggest houses in the 1970s,” said a spokesman for LABC but from the 1980s onwards “Britain’s houses started to regress”.

Despite the vogue for “island” kitchens, the space given to food preparation peaked in the 1960s and is now 13% smaller in new-build homes, the report said.

The research points to a reduction in the number of bedrooms, which peaked in the 1980s at an average of 3.6 compared with just under three bedrooms today. Overall, today’s homes are the same size as those built in the 1940s, the research found.

Again, richer societies generally have larger living accommodations. We’re richer, why are houses smaller? And they are:

British families are living in some of the most cramped conditions in Europe according to a new study.

After analysing data from 1,000 properties in 13 different countries around the world, research shows that houses in England have less space than any other European country with an average of just 71.9 square metres.

Why? Because the government insists upon density requirements for new builds. Last I saw it was 14 houses per hectare. Which, given that we tend to like our gardens, means not much house. Further, until very recently they’ve not been issuing enough planning permissions, making land to build upon expensive that meaning small houses again.

The reason British houses are small is that it is government policy that they should be small. We live hugger mugger because the government, in its wisdom, insists that we do.

We used to have the Parker Morris standards, the minimum that social or council housing should be built to. It’s not entirely obvious that you’d get planning permission for something that large these days.

Thanks planners!

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Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
6 years ago

the government insists upon density requirements for new builds. Last I saw it was 14 houses per hectare. Which, given that we tend to like our gardens, means not much house.

Round here (leafy Chilterns) it’s much more likely to be a 5-bed detached ‘executive’ home within a plot so small that you can shake hands with your next door neighbour from the upstairs bedroom. No-one has time to maintain a large garden, except retired folk.

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
6 years ago

You would get planning permission for a Parker Morris house, it would just be too expensive to sell.

Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp
6 years ago

Look, it’s good enough for common people who buy their own furniture.

Hector Drummond, vile novelist

As Genesis observed on Foxtrot, we just need planning restrictions on humanoid height to solve the problem.

6 years ago

It would be interesting to know how much this is skewed by London. I’ve been idly considering buying something in my home town for early retirement purposes but I don’t see such a dramatic constriction there.

6 years ago
Reply to  Marius

– deleted – just testing to see if swearing was allowed…

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