Mayor releases new housing standards

Boris Johnson releases new housing design standards for publicly funded projects in London, with the pledge that no more “hobbit homes” would be built.

The guidance will apply to all new publicly funded homes built in the capital from 2011. It sets new minimum standards and is part of his commitment to improve the quality of new homes. The guide sets out six key areas of design that new developments will have to address, including:

– focusing on the spaces between and around buildings so that developments integrate with the wider public realm
– ensuring a mix of housing sizes, types and tenures at a range of densities for the diverse needs of Londoners
– better design of entrances and shared circulation areas, with measures to design out crime at the outset of a development, as well as car parking and cycle and waste  storage
– new minimum internal space standards including guidance on the size and layout of different rooms to ensure greater flexibility of space in the home – the minimum space standards recommended are broadly ten per cent higher than the 1961 Parker Morris benchmark
– making homes more comfortable places to live and enjoy by making them quieter, lighter and better ventilated
– ensuring homes are designed to meet climate change and are suitable for warmer summers and wetter winters

The new guide also consolidates existing design standards to reduce the burden on housing developers, cutting the number of requirements they must refer to from over 300 to 90, as well as on the public purse, and could eventually be applied to private sector homes once incorporated as policy in the revised London Plan.

The Mayor said: For too long we have built homes to indecently poor standards – fit neither for Bilbo Baggins nor his hobbit friends – and that is indefensible. The finest city in the world deserves the finest housing for its inhabitants and when we get it wrong it can scar generation after generation. Today marks the start of reversing that downward trend and raising the bar, not just in publicly funded, but all new homes built in London. I want design excellence to become the first priority of any plans for new homes and innovation, in the best tradition of this unique city, to be at the forefront of that design.

The RIBA and English Heritage welcomed the announcement.

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