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Shoebox Britain: How shrinking homes are affecting our health and happiness

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The continuous subdivision of UK housing stock isn't accidental. It's the centrepiece of the Tory boys hpi++ forever agenda.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/oct/10/shrinking-homes-affect-health-shoebox-britain

Quote

 

Britain’s housing crisis is pushing more of us into shoebox homes. Houses are shrinking, too. In 2014, the average new-build in the UK was 76 sq m, the smallest in Europe (Danish homes were almost double the size, research by the University of Cambridge showed). The average living room in a house built in the 1970s, meanwhile, was 25 sq m, compared to 17 today, according to LABC Warranty, which provides warranties for new-builds.

But it is the slicing and dicing of houses – and, increasingly, office buildings – that is redefining the whole idea of home, recalling a dark era of tenements and rookeries. For some residents, it is a money-saving endurance test of the sort many of us consider a rite of passage. For others, it can feel like the walls are closing in and there is no way out.

There have been attempts for more than a century to promote space standards for homes. In 1912, Raymond Unwin, the architect and planner best known for the garden city movement, wrote: Nothing Gained by Overcrowding!, a pamphlet on the subject. In the same year, the Local Government Board recommended that no house should be smaller than 79.4 sq m. Flats appeared in space guidelines in a 1961 report of the Parker Morris committee. One-person, single-storey flats should be at least 29.7 sq m, it said, with 2.6 sq m of storage – double the size of Jenny’s home.

But standards and ideals can get blurred in a vicious economic cycle. Ministers relax planning rules to enable more building and development. Developers and landlords find profitable loopholes in those changes. Local authorities, desperate for alternatives to their own dwindling housing stock, direct residents to those landlords, fuelling further exploitation at a time when councils also lack resources for planning and building control. Residents, often faced with homelessness, endure the cramped results, until society notices and someone writes another report.

“My concern is that people are becoming inured to something that they shouldn’t have to put up with,” says Julia Park, the head of housing research at architectural firm Levitt Bernstein. She has written a history of space standards and is surprised by how little we consider the effects of domestic confinement. “When you’re living in smaller and smaller flats, you reach a point where it makes sense to take out the walls because one big room feels nicer, but I think that implies a lot of compromise we’re not examining,” she says. “Some of these flats pose threats to physical health, but, in small spaces, it’s going to be mental health that is most affected.”

Park, who advises local authorities, laments the way sleeping, cooking and washing are increasingly viewed as the only functions of a dwelling in a housing market where a living room is becoming a luxury. She is especially worried about the types of homes that have emerged in the gaps in policy. This summer, she noticed a seven-floor former office block in Croydon, in south London that had been divided into flats. Planning records showed that each of the six upper floors in the building had been converted into 10 studios, including single flats of just 13 sq m.

By current standards, these flats are barely a third of the recommended size. Park was instrumental in drawing up the “nationally described space standard”, a nationwide metric implemented by the government in 2015. It recommends 37 sq m for a one-person, one-bedroom flat; a two-person, one-bedroom flat should be 50 sq m.

Park was surprised that the government had agreed to the recommendations, given its austerity policies. “The compromise was that it is optional,” she adds, estimating that fewer than half of councils have adopted it. Even when they do, it only applies to new buildings or developments that go through the planning system, but not to a range of “permitted developments”. So, for a relatively small investment, the owner of an office building, for example, can convert it into self-contained flats with only “prior notification”.

Ben Clifford led a team that visited more than 500 converted office buildings for a report published last May by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. “We were shocked by how many of these flats were of a very poor quality,” says Clifford, a senior lecturer in spatial planning and government at University College London’s Bartlett school of planning. In one, Clifford called the fire brigade after spotting walls dividing flats made only of plywood. “We spoke to one resident who was in a tiny one-bed flat with two children and no balconies or open space,” he says. “Another woman, in an 80s office building, said it just wasn’t very nice to live in a flat with big tinted windows that don’t open.”

 

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Mental health issues, anxiety, hopelessness, fear and lack of feel good factor is something that was not so prevalent in past decades......the big question is why is this happening?😉

 

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23 minutes ago, winkie said:

Mental health issues, anxiety, hopelessness, fear and lack of feel good factor is something that was not so prevalent in past decades......the big question is why is this happening?😉

 

Mainly comes from reading the Guardian. I would give it up if I were you.

You don't pay for it, after all.

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1 minute ago, onlooker said:

Mainly comes from reading the Guardian. I would give it up if I were you.

You don't pay for it, after all.

Never voted Labour, never read the guardian......no longer buy papers, don't need anyone telling me what is going on when I can clearly see what is going on....no never rented either.😉

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Its gone past a joke, the house we rent is a 2 bed house. The second bedroom is 4'2" wide by 12'. You cant actually get a double bed into the room. 

Other than the kitchen, there is only 1 built in cupboard in the whole house and thats in the bathroom. It has the boiler in. The living room is small and has the stairs in, which makes it smaller. But at least there is a seperate kitchen, and the front door doe open into a hallway

Luckliy for us we are just a couple no kids, but we can't easily entertain as we dont have the space to put people. But we have had to be either ruthless with our possessions, getting rid or finding creative ways of storing things. 

We do have some stuff at our parents houses as well. 

This is in a 15+ year old estate 

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Interesting to note that there is so much hype in the media about 'Tiny Houses' - I wonder are people being conditioned to put up with much more cramped living conditions?

(Note: I have nothing against actual 'Tiny Houses', I think they can be a great solution for some people).

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8 minutes ago, Monkey said:

Its gone past a joke, the house we rent is a 2 bed house. The second bedroom is 4'2" wide by 12'. You cant actually get a double bed into the room. 

Other than the kitchen, there is only 1 built in cupboard in the whole house and thats in the bathroom. It has the boiler in. The living room is small and has the stairs in, which makes it smaller. But at least there is a seperate kitchen, and the front door doe open into a hallway

Luckliy for us we are just a couple no kids, but we can't easily entertain as we dont have the space to put people. But we have had to be either ruthless with our possessions, getting rid or finding creative ways of storing things. 

We do have some stuff at our parents houses as well. 

This is in a 15+ year old estate 

15 years old?  So the problem existed before the Tories? 

Seriously though it is crazy, what is the point of a house like that?  Unless it is in central London, it seems far too small.

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This on the day a minister for suicides is appointed ....... This is a feckin' wind up ... can't be true ...... I'm going to double check this.....

.......

I've checked...... it's true.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/suicide-minister-uk-government-theresa-may-jackie-doyle-price-mental-health-a8576471.html

Still, I guess the increase in councilors will keep the economy going a bit longer.

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26 minutes ago, cnick said:

This on the day a minister for suicides is appointed ....... This is a feckin' wind up ... can't be true ...... I'm going to double check this.....

.......

I've checked...... it's true.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/suicide-minister-uk-government-theresa-may-jackie-doyle-price-mental-health-a8576471.html

Still, I guess the increase in councilors will keep the economy going a bit longer.

In Facebook I've joined the group for political parties and now when they report on this or any of today's mental heath reports, I am posting the Guardian link.

When a Govt appoints a special minister or sets up a department (i.e. disabled) it's usually to try and control the dialogue on a problem

My heath was affected badly from being evicted by a Landlord and forced into temporary accommodation. Ended up with cancer having to register with a new GP and tackle hospital appointments in these circumstances. The stress was huge.

 

Edited by Flopsy

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1 hour ago, winkie said:

Mental health issues, anxiety, hopelessness, fear and lack of feel good factor is something that was not so prevalent in past decades......the big question is why is this happening?😉

Meebook and twatter and kids being totally mollycoddled by parents and told that they are wonderful and can have anything they want in life. Hence the term snowflake. 

 

1 hour ago, onlooker said:

Mainly comes from reading the Guardian. I would give it up if I were you.

You don't pay for it, after all.

LoL - to be fair the Grauniad is good for a laugh or if you are a teacher.  

 

42 minutes ago, Monkey said:

We do have some stuff at our parents houses as well. 

This is in a 15+ year old estate

Move then?

 

4 minutes ago, Flopsy said:

In Facebook I joined the group for political parties and now when they report on this or any of today's mental heath reports, I am posting the Guardian link.

mebook - OMG

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3 hours ago, iamnumerate said:

15 years old?  So the problem existed before the Tories? 

Seriously though it is crazy, what is the point of a house like that?  Unless it is in central London, it seems far too small.

It seem it was all during the NuLabour years it started, at worst the end of tge Tories before that.

Here is a similar house currently for sale in the same town.

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-66974500.html

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1 minute ago, Monkey said:

It seem it was all during the NuLabour years it started, at worst the end of tge Tories before that.

Here is a similar house currently for sale in the same town.

https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-66974500.html

I think John Prescott changed the rules on minimum size (I am not 100% sure).  It is possible that Cameron's lot managed to make it even worse.

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5 hours ago, cashinmattress said:

Naw. Social media has much more to do with modern age first world unhappiness than does the size of your gaff.

Both.....social media is making young adults think they should be a certain kind of person, achieve a certain goal/exam result.....high expectations that are unable to be delivered (no fault of their own), making people feel inadequate, a failure, not good enough.......living solo in a box with square social media and ad eyes...the outside marketed as  'perfect' world is different to their world......getta high paid job, getta a partner, getta home that has a spare bedroom.....looser if do not live up to these social ideals......add excessive debt to that scenario, no wonder huge numbers are depressed, self harm, can't sleep and become addicted....😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, btd1981 said:

Not just sizes... A new build estate thrown up next to us has large detached houses that you can only walk between sideways.

Same near me - and they are all town houses on 3 floors.

The street looks like a row of Totem Poles, ludicrous.

 

 

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I have a living room in my one bed flat, it's also my kitchen, dining room, study, utility room, garden (a few potted plants) and bathroom (standalone bath has to go in there because it won't fit in the 'bathroom' where I can't use the shower because I keep getting legionnaire's). I wouldn't mind if the rent was low, but it isn't and don't say just move because I can't afford to without going into debt.

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On 10/10/2018 at 10:57, Sour Mash said:

Interesting to note that there is so much hype in the media about 'Tiny Houses' - I wonder are people being conditioned to put up with much more cramped living conditions?

(Note: I have nothing against actual 'Tiny Houses', I think they can be a great solution for some people).

Tiny houses can work in some circumstances, with some benefits. ie reduced space to heat, forcing reduced consumerism / debt  due to lack of space to collect / sore stuff. 

Mobility of work force 

The down side is not often mentioned ie. they are easy to nick as they're on wheels. often T.H.  are too expensive to buy .

I work with a community group trying to design cheaper building systems for shelters. 

This is a basic outline  of one of the most promising, whether its on wheels or not

  Budget Shelters for Low income Groups using Purlin or Steel Rsj Type Frames & Kingspan Metal Sided Sandwich Panels  

https://cabinznet.blogspot.com/?view=flipcard

  

 

   

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Small houses / flats for us have meant no family gatherings for any of us unless someone fancies hiring a venue.

All other siblings live in flats or 2 bed terrace new builds. No parking and no space for kids to run around unsupervised. It’s sh!t to be truthful. Older parents are all gone or ill and their larger homes moved on. We’re the only couple that have a 2.5 bed semi and sort of garden. Still can’t accommodate family. Feels very sad if I’m honest.

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