More about Beecholme

Beecholme is also the first postwar "mixed development" housing scheme in Hackney, with a mixture of houses and flats with the taller block having five storeys and containing one-bedroom and bedsit accommodation. It is featured in Volume 15 of Hackney History and was the site of Beecholme House, the family home of Maj. John André (d. 1780), who was executed as a British spy in the American War of Independence.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Floor space in "affordable housing" needs minimum standard

Looking for
"No Tesco Express at 144/146 Lower Clapton Road"?
Just scroll down to the next post  (updated 4 June)

UPDATED with additional material from CABE

The Edwardians built 3-bedroom flats at 120 sq m while today there are some 4-bedroom houses built at 100 sq m.

Parker Morris never imagined dishwashers and fridge freezers, home computing and DVDs so even his standards would be outmoded let alone what passes as the modern de-regulated equivalent.

This is from a very recent CABE article:
 (I've made some sections bold)

(CABE is the govt's advisor on architecture, urban design & public space)


Why do we need standards?

The quality of most new housing is not good enough.
CABE’s national housing audits and affordable housing survey rated 82 per cent of new housing “average” or “poor” for design quality.
Most consumers are getting a raw deal when it comes to the quality of new homes and neighbourhoods.
This is also bad news for taxpayers.
The national housing audits revealed that the design quality of almost one in three homes was so poor that they should not have been given planning permission.
It uncovered family housing with no play areas, windows looking out on blank walls, and broad expanses of tarmac.
Schemes frequently lack character or distinctiveness and fail to respond to the local context. Confusing site layouts make it difficult to find your way around, and access to local amenities was often poor.

The cost of bad design  
  • Treating illnesses arising from poor housing conditions costs up to £2 billion per year, according to a study for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  This is more than local authorities spend on all their own housing stock each year.
  • annual estimates of the increased costs associated with the 7.6% of public sector homes considered unfit for habitation are an additional £1.8 billion each year.
  • The average cost of building in Secure by Design measures was just £440 per new dwelling, compared with average losses of £1,670 per dwelling from burglary.
 Read the full article at:

Guess who said this just last year:

“I think it shameful that new buildings in London have some of the smallest rooms in Europe,”
“We need to build for the long term — buildings that people will want to keep for 100 years and not tear down in 30.”

Surprisingly it was Boris Johnson.

Not surprisingly the major house builders gave his comments
only a "cautious welcome".

I sincerely hope it does
 “...signal a move towards a quality agenda rather than a housing market driven by the price per square foot mentality.”
as Owen O’Carroll, a director at housing practice Stock Woolstencroft noted.
Unfortunately, this is very unlikely to happen unless they are forced to by the re-introduction of minumum standards - as the following report notes.

The following is an excerpt
from the "Room sizes"
Scrutiny Investigation 2008
by Croydon council:

"“Size matters”, the study by the London
Assembly’s Planning and Spatial
Development Committee, acknowledges
the need to establish adequate internal
standards, and the fact that “the lack of
family sized housing will mean that many
people are living in overcrowded conditions,
with detrimental impacts on family
relationships, child development and health”.
In contrast to the Planning Inspectorate’s
current position, it recommends that:
“Borough planning departments should
include size and mix policies, based on their
housing needs assessment to calculate
the required mix of units in their area, and
set out these requirements in their Unitary
Development Plan / Local Development
Framework and development briefs for larger
sites or where appropriate”.
“When boroughs only use unit
measurements to calculate the amount of
affordable housing, consideration should
be given to including habitable rooms
or floor space as an alternative or
complementary measure to secure the
required housing mix”.
However, the priorities of national
government policy, current developers
and builders and the circumstances of
prospective residents do not provide
promising prospects for establishing
adequate internal space standards for new

Get the full 40 page pdf with lots info and photos at

Between 1994 and 2004 room sizes shrank dramatically
with no guidance from govt.

The current minimum standard of 9 squ m for the main 2 bed room, with other bedrooms even smaller, with complete flats of 30 squ m (as allowed by many local authorities) is just appalling with expected resultant health and social problems.

As per the graph below, for a civilized community without the problems associated with overcrowding, 3 people in a 2 bed flat should have at least 70 squ m total (ideally 95+) with bedrooms a minimum of 15 squ m and critically with good sound insulation.

Surely this needs to be addressed if we don't want to see our society degrade even further.
We can't allow the greed of developers to take precedence at the expense of a decent quality of life for residents or the quality of our visual environment.

Short term gain for a few
or long term savings for us all
Flats built well and of a decent size will be wanted, as Boris says, in a hundred years. The quick built tiny flats going up now for families will be slums in 30 years - they are just not appropriate for families.

Worth doing something about, surely.


(click on "Comments" at the bottom of this post to leave your views and I will copy them in here)

"I am always surprised at the number of people in "rabbit hutch Britain" who are unaware that, until scrapped in 1980, minimum space standards for new homes built since the 1960s had been set by Government. What we need is a Parker Morris standard for the 21st century to reflect the way people live now. What better time to launch such a standard than the 50th anniversary of the Parker Morris Report in 2011."

               Says a representative of the Clapton Conservation Areas Advisory Committee.              

• • •

It's another reason why properties like the Old Tram Depot with very high ceilings and large rooms (in live/work studios) must not be allowed to be demolished in favour of health & social problem creating "affordable" housing.

It's also another reason an AREA ACTION PLAN for Clapton
is so essential. An AAP could cover a whole raft of standards (minimum and otherwise) not covered elsewhere and that would be under our local control.

See the main Area Action Plan post

 The online PETITION
The petition for an Area Action Plan is
to be given to Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet member for Regeneration
and to Graham Loveland, Assistant Director for Planning & Regeneration.


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