Builders face block on 'rabbit-hutch' homes
British buyers are put off from buying because new houses are smallest in western Europe
HOUSEBUILDERS could be forced to construct larger homes under proposals to curb the proliferation of "rabbit-hutch" properties.
Don Foster, the communities minister, will today launch a consultation on "minimum space standards". In an effort to cut red tape for builders, he is also expected to scrap up to 90 housing standards, including a stipulation for multiple phone lines in home offices.
In March, Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, said the previous Labour government's density targets, which said at least 30 homes must be built on every hectare of land, had left families "trapped in rabbit-hutch homes".
The Financial Times says the move will be seen as "the coalition's quid pro quo for fuelling a recovery in the house-building sector with its Help to Buy mortgage support scheme". Although the scheme has given a boost to the housing market, many buyers are still put off by the small size of new homes.
The average new house in Britain is now the smallest in western Europe. Sizes have nearly halved over the last 80 years as landowners tried to squeeze the maximum profit from their plots.
In 1920, the average semi-detached new-build in the UK was four bedrooms and 1,647 sq ft. The equivalent now is just three bedrooms and 925 sq ft, according to a survey by the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA).
Harry Rich, RIBA chief executive, welcomed the review. "Our public research has repeatedly revealed that space in new homes is a major concern," he said. "Our surveys have revealed that 60 per cent of people who would not buy a new home said the small size of rooms was the most important reason."