Last edited 30 Jul 2016

Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard

The ‘Housing standards review’ (HSR) was launched by the government in October 2012 following the housing and construction 'Red Tape Challenge', which began in Spring 2012.

This was followed by a housing standards review consultation in 2013 which stated:

‘Aside from the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Housing Quality Indicators, which the government own, standards are all drawn from documents produced by non-Governmental groups who perceive that current national guidance, policy or regulation is deficient in some respect, and needs to be supplemented. They are rarely subject to cost benefit analysis when they are developed, unlike government guidance or regulation. Some examples of the most commonly imposed standards are Lifetime Homes, Secured by Design, the Merton Rule, the London Housing Design Guide, and local space standards.’

The government argued that this can lead to duplication and even contradiction and Communities Minister Stephen Williams stated an intention to reduce housing standards from 100 to fewer than 10, and confirmed that the government would develop a national space standard to be available to councils ‘where there was a need and where this would not stop development’.

On 27 March 2015 the government launched a new approach to housing standards and published a new set of streamlined national technical standards. This included publication of: Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard.

This 'space standard' can only be applied where there is a local plan policy based on evidenced local need and where the viability of development is not compromised. The space standard will replace existing space standards used by local authorities. It is part of the planning system and is not a building regulation.

The standard deals with internal space within new dwellings and is suitable for application across all tenures. It sets out requirements for the gross internal floor area of new dwellings at a defined level of occupancy as well as floor areas and dimensions for key parts of homes.

The standard requires that:

  • A dwelling provides at least the Gross Internal Area and built-in storage area set out in Table 1 below.
  • A dwelling with two or more bedspaces has at least one double (or twin) bedroom.
  • In order to provide one bedspace, a single bedroom has a floor area of at least 7.5m² and is at least 2.15m wide.
  • In order to provide two bedspaces, a double (or twin bedroom) has a floor area of at least 11.5m².
  • One double (or twin bedroom) is at least 2.75m wide and every other double (or twin) bedroom is at least 2.55m wide.
  • Any area with a headroom of less than 1.5m is not counted within the Gross Internal Area unless used solely for storage (if the area under the stairs is to be used for storage, assume a general floor area of 1m² within the Gross Internal Area).
  • Any other area that is used solely for storage and has a headroom of 900-1500mm (such as under eaves) is counted at 50% of its floor area, and any area lower than 900mm is not counted at all.
  • A built-in wardrobe counts towards the Gross Internal Area and bedroom floor area requirements, but should not reduce the effective width of the room below the minimum widths set out above. The built-in area in excess of 0.72m² in a double bedroom and 0.36m² in a single bedroom counts towards the built-in storage requirement.
  • The minimum floor to ceiling height is 2.3m for at least 75% of the Gross Internal Area.

Table 1 - Minimum gross internal floor areas and storage (m²)

National space standard table 1.jpg

[2] Where a one person flat has a shower room rather than a bathroom, the floor area may be reduced from 39m² to 37m².

In May 2016, during consideration of the Housing and Planning Bill in the Lords, Department for Communities and Local Government minister Baroness Williams confirmed that the standard would be reviewed, saying, “Now that the national space standard has been in place for more than a year, we agree that the time is right to assess how it is being used by local authorities. We therefore propose to undertake a review to see how the space standard is operating in practice. This will be completed by next spring and we will be happy to report back to the House on its findings and recommendations.”

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