What is the Mail Online Playing At?

Posted on November 20, 2011 by Builder Bob There have been 0 comments

Today’s Mail On-Line (20 November 2011) features an article by Sean Poulter “Honey we shrunk the house”. The statistics it provides are surely encouragement for more people to become Self-Builders.


Based on a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) study, these show, for example:-

  • The average British home has shrunk in size by 40 per cent in 80 years, condemning millions of families to Toytown estates.
  • New houses have fewer, less spacious rooms and lower ceilings, meaning an Englishman's home is now more like his rabbit hutch than his castle.
  • Large gardens have all but disappeared except in expensive properties.
  • In 1920, the average new large family home boasted five bedrooms and occupied 3,440 square feet. Today's equivalent has just four bedrooms and 2,409sq ft, while the ceiling height has dropped from 11ft to 8ft 8in.
  • A typical semi has gone from 1,647sq ft to 925sq ft, losing one of its four bedrooms.
  • Terraced houses have shrunk from three bedrooms and 1,020sq ft to two bedrooms and 645sq ft.

Accelerating Trends

Blame for these accelerating trends is placed variously on:-

  • soaring land prices, which prompt developers to cram more houses on to each plot.
  • Smaller families without ‘live-in’ staff.
  • Entertaining friends being on a smaller scale – hence no need for big dining rooms
  • the popularity of eating out
  • ready meals reducing the demand for large kitchens.
  • The advent of 24-hour supermarkets and corner shops that enable food to be bought when needed, reducing the need for cupboard space.
  • More leisure time spent going out.
  • More cinemas, bars and pubs and gyms taking people out in the evenings.

Shrinkage Continuing

The RICS ‘warned yesterday’ that the shrinking is unlikely to stop.  The ‘House Builders' Federation’, which represents major developers, blamed government planning policy; in particular PPG3 (planning Policy Guidance 3) which  discourages building on open countryside, promotes the re-use of derelict land and requires houses to be built at higher densities.

Cutting back on gardens is helping meet Deputy Premier John Prescott s plans to insist on an extra three homes per acre on every new estate, increasing average density from 23 homes per hectare - 9.3 per acre, to at least 30 per hectare - just over 12 per acre.

Out of date

And there you have it.  Two Jags Prescott was DPM 5 years ago. The House Builders Federation changed their name to “Home Builders Federation” at around the same time. PPG3 has long since been consigned to revision under the Localism Bill,

Preparing for more Self-Builders

So just what game is the Mail Online playing?

Our guess is that this regurgitation of old news and data is part of some campaign to prepare local communities to allow – even encourage – more self-building.

As part of the drive to encourage the release of land for building in line with current government thinking, this could actually be good news for Self Builders.

A Welcome Cause

As champions of their cause, Simply Self Build welcomes such an outcome.

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