An end to rabbit hutch Britain? Government considers space standards for new homes

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has welcomed the consultation from the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) outlining potential minimum space standards for Local Authorities to implement for new build homes.

The consultation includes a number of options on space, including a three-tier standard to be set by Local Authorities or an option for space labeling where there size of all new homes would be clearly labeled when sold.

The RIBA supports a national space standard. The middle tier of the proposed standard, which is in broad alignment with the London space standard, should be implemented across the country and for public and private tenures. However, the RIBA urges the Government to go further and introduce national minimum space standards in Building Regulations, to ensure developers building homes anywhere in the country deliver the homes people say they need, and address the disastrously small housing that we have seen built over the last 30 years.

RIBA President Elect* Stephen Hodder said:

'Today’s announcement is welcome recognition by the Government that space standards are necessary for public and private housing. Some 30 years after space standards were abolished, this consultation is a significant step towards giving people the homes they want and need and putting right the housing wrongs of the last three decades.

'The UK housing market is broken, with clear evidence of market failure happening up and down the country.

'We welcome the Government’s support for space standards but call on them to now seize the opportunity to simplify their approach and integrate nationwide minimum space standards into Building Regulations. This will create a level playing field for developers wherever they are building and ensure that people wherever they live get the homes they want and need.'

The RIBA’s landmark Case for Space report highlighted numerous examples of market failure to provide the new build homes needed for people across the country. RIBA research has found that:

  • Only 1 in 4 people in the UK would prefer to buy a new build home
  • The UK has the smallest new build homes in Western Europe; our new homes are missing the equivalent of a single bedroom.
  • Lack of space is the main reason why people living in homes built less than 10 years ago want to make changes or are considering moving home

The RIBA is also concerned that light standards for new build homes are important to the public. Today’s consultation asks respondents whether standards for daylighting and sunlighting should be considered. RIBA will urge the Government to consider light standards in new build homes, as our research found natural light is the most important aspect of a home, rated at the highest level of importance by 63% of respondents. Other standards in the consultation include energy, security and water efficiency.

In Scotland, there are currently regulations on natural light in new homes. However, London is the only place in England that currently has standards for the size of windows. The RIBA is concerened that if left to the current minimum regulations, 1 window per room at 45cm x 45cm could become even more commonplace –the same size as the average cushion.**

To remedy the housing crisis, the UK needs 300,000 new good quality homes each year for the foreseeable future. The RIBA, through its HomeWise ‘Without Space and Light’ campaign has been calling for the introduction of minimum space and light standards for new build homes across the country. Only with these measures in place will future generations stand a better chance of living in homes that are well designed, provide adequate space and light and are built with people in mind.      


Notes to editors

  1. For further press information contact Howard Crosskey in the RIBA Press Office: 020 7307 3761
  2. *Stephen Hodder’s Presidency of the RIBA starts on the 1st September 2013.
  3. The Housing standards review consultation can be viewed here:
  4. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. Visit or follow us at 
  5. ** This size relates to egress windows; it is the only window size stated in Building Regulations but it refers to the size needed for a window to be an escape route. There are no specified areas to provide adequate natural light.