This has been a particularly important issue in the Covid-19 lockdowns where people are forced to spend much more time in their homes as chronicled by the Social Life/ Kaizen Partnership survey. This is partly about having enough space, but it is also about the flexibility to use space in different ways and this does not necessarily mean open-plan spaces.
Separate kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms can be used for different activities by various household members. There are also concerns with flats created using Permitted Development Rights, including flats with very small floor areas and even in a few cases no windows!
What You Can Do
Pressure your local planning authority to include the Nationally Described Space Standards in local policy. Where groups are involved in developing new homes they should take an interest in the proposed house types and compare them to the London Housing Design Guide. It might even be possible to source some large sheets of cardboard and create full-scale models of the house interiors in a local community centre (see picture, left).
Developers and Designers
Include space standards in the brief for all new housing and consider whether it is appropriate to use Lifetime Homes. Undertake daylight and overshadowing studies, particularly in high-density schemes, considering both the development and existing accommodation in the surrounding area.
Include the Nationally Described Space Standards in local planning policy and consider the application of Lifetime Homes. Check the space standards of all planning applications and the implications of daylight and overshadowing.
2A) Derwenthorpe, York
Derwenthorpe properties are built to Lifetime Homes standards, to enable residents to remain in their home and adapt the space should they become less mobile or physically impaired.
Additionally, residents have the capacity to extend living spaces into the loft – a feature which enables the home to expand to meet the needs of a growing family or to accommodate live-work patterns.
There are over 500 homes on the 21.7 hectare site, with a mix of affordable rent and market sale properties. Derwenthorpe is a partnership scheme between the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust and Barratt Developments.
Post-occupancy evaluation has spanned six years and revealed that the majority of residents (89%) were satisfied with their homes, with residents more likely to be ‘very satisfied’ than the national average. Residents repeatedly complimented the space standards of the contemporary design. The generous architectural design of homes includes higher ceilings than most new-build properties and larger windows. The additional space and light are highly regarded by residents and impacts positively on their quality of life.
The homes have proved flexible enough to meet a variety of needs, with some modifying the original purpose of the room: for example, converting an upstairs bedroom into a study. People generally like having space for all members of the family, and many like the open plan nature of the living space.
Front gardens are small and ungated, so front doors seem more approachable, and lend to a strong sense of community. In addition, the variety of social clubs, mix of people and abundance of well-designed green space, including a tranquil nature pond, has led to a thriving neighbourhood.
“Great York Pre-Walk.” by robbophotos is licensed under CC BY 2.0, ©Tim Crocker