BLOG: Watch this space?

Martin Skinner, CEO of Inspired Asset Management and Inspired Homes, argues that reducing space standards will help Millennials onto the London property ladder. October 4, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
BLOG: Watch this space?

Many developers have used Permitted Development Rights (PDR) to build new homes in former non-residential spaces such as office buildings. This means the living space you create does not have to adhere to the Government’s strict space standards, applied to all new home developments built from scratch.

PDR offers a chance for councils to attract investment, provide an economic boost to their areas and facilitate new home building. Not only do new developments attract jobs, but they also often lead to increased investment in the wider area and a ‘feel good’ factor in the community. Take Croydon as a prime example. One of the capital’s leading town centres until the 1980s, the last 30 years has seen a significant decline in prominence. However, the Mayor has now identified the ‘Croydon Opportunity Area’: one of 33 zones offering significant capacity for new housing, commercial and other development types.

Inspired Homes’ flagship development in Croydon, Green Dragon House, has been created from a former office building. A showcase example of a renovated development using PDR, apartments have been built significantly below current space standards. At the same time, they are designed in an intelligent way to optimise the use of space. Hallways, which can take up to a third of a property’s floor area, have been removed making the homes brighter by creating an airy feel. And extra, high quality communal areas also help to make low square footage apartments a smarter choice than larger ones with additional places to relax and socialise.

Our developments also offer residents communal work hub areas, super-fast broadband and roof terraces with communal BBQs. This is a new model for a new type of buyer – and they have sold exceptionally well – the project essentially sold out well before it was finished.

So, Millennials who have been priced out of larger properties and forced to rent can see light at the end of the tunnel. Today’s affordable new home may be smaller, but it’s smarter and it’s one they can call their own.

This approach represents an easy solution to what has become a major problem for the London property industry. The revision of space standards would provide a real shot in the arm for the London housing crisis, allowing developers to build smaller, more affordable and more productive homes.

I feel that if space standards were reduced, developers could substantially increase the housing supply – perhaps even double their current output. We sell to a domestic audience and by building smaller homes, we can help Londoners unlock access to up and coming areas such as Croydon. These Millennials are currently shut out of the London market. But our micro-apartment template can change all that, providing an affordable solution for the next generation.

Not only does our unique business model bring cost-effective London living back in reach. It also helps to create thriving communities, improving the neighbourhoods in which we operate. London needs to become more attractive and competitive for developers and more accessible for younger buyers. Until space standards are relaxed, I cannot see a way for the next generation to take their first step onto the ladder.

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