HOUSING trends come and go. For example, there has undoubtedly been a shift towards open plan and loft-style living over the last decade or two. Internal configurations and space considerations are once again on the contemporary housing agenda — this time with regard to so called micro apartments.
In its recently published Housing Futures report, leading national estate agent Strutt & Parker identifies the trend for this type of property — one it calls micro mansions — as something we should expect to see a lot more of in the future. Stephanie McMahon, Head of Research at Strutt & Parker, says: ‘Small can be beautiful. The micro mansion serves as the ultimate living solution for those who prize location over space.
‘These are not oddities where broom cupboards have been converted into some semblance of accommodation — they are carefully designed and well planned homes.’
Already common in Japan and the US, these can often be as tiny as 100-250sq ft, although in the UK, there are minimum national space standards that will stop such super-tiny homes being built. The London Plan, for example, stipulates the minimum space standard is 37sqm for a one person, one-bed dwelling, or 50sqm for a one-bed dwelling for two people. Planning permission is not granted for new builds falling short.
Many support the maintenance of the hard-won minimum space standard. Greg Jones, Associate Director at geo-environmental consultancy CGL, says: ‘Following years of fighting space standards legislation, encouraging micro units as a response to the housing shortage could undo a lot of good work.’
But there are plenty of interested buyers. HKR Architects has designed several new developments in Lambeth for Pocket, which the developer terms as ‘compact’. The practice has used identical modular apartment types across three projects. Geoff Brocklehurst, Director at HKR Architects, says: ‘Our designs for Pocket have proven digestible to the planners and desirable to buyers looking for an affordable foot on the housing ladder. The 38sqm one-bedroom apartments have been cleverly designed to feel much larger, with floor-to-ceiling windows to allow in natural light, plenty of storage to reduce clutter and ample room for real furniture.’
Some developers feel so strongly that the national space standards are too restrictive, they are lobbying to have them revised.
Martin Skinner, Chief Executive of Inspired Homes, says: ‘The national space standards means that it’s almost impossible to obtain planning permission for new-build micro-apartment schemes. However, the standards don’t apply to conversions, so we’ve taken advantage of office-to-residential permitted development rights to deliver over 400 micro apartments in just over three years [such as those at Central Cross, inset left].
‘Our one-bedroom apartments are typically 30sqm to 36sqm, with two-bed apartments averaging at 52sqm. They utilise space more efficiently, so we are able to offer new homes at lower prices and with lower utility bills. Our model is designed so mortgage, service charge and utility bills costs fall within circa £850 per month.’
‘It’s bright, it’s airy and it’s mine’
AGGY BAK, 34, bought a one-bedroom apartment at Inspired’s Canius House development in Croydon last year. The accountant paid £294,950 using Help to Buy London.
She says: ‘I was fed up with renting and landlords constantly raising their prices. I was surprised to find I could afford to buy a property with a short commute to central London. So, I jumped at the chance when I found it.’
It took Aggy nine months to save the 5 per cent Help to Buy deposit of £16,000. She says: ‘I now pay less in mortgage repayments (£700pcm) than I did in rent (£1,000 pcm).
‘My Inspired Homes apartment is bright and airy, with solid wood floors and a high-spec kitchen and best of all, it’s mine.’
INSPIRED HOMES is creating Central Cross — 82 one, two and three-bed apartments and eight penthouses, near South Croydon’s ‘restaurant quarter’.
Designed to incorporate plenty of natural light, they have engineered hardwood floors, designer kitchens and super-fast internet connectivity.
Due for completion in the third quarter of 2017, they are now available to purchase off plan, with assistance available from Help to Buy. Prices start at £289,950 for a one-bed, inspiredhomes.uk.com
Plaistow Lane, Bromley NW1
There are just two apartments left to purchase at Bellway Homes’ Hampton Grange apartments in Plaistow Lane in the London Borough of Bromley. The two and three-bedroom apartments are set in a former Freelands school building. The Grade II Listed building, set within 10.5 acres of parkland has been sensitively converted into an exclusive collection of apartments. Prices start at £699,995 for a two-bedroom apartment. bellway.co.uk
* Admiralty House,
Silvertown, Royal Docks E14
Rental homes at Royal Wharf launching Saturday
New one, two and three-bedroom apartments available to rent at Folio London’s Admiralty House, part of the huge Royal Wharf regeneration scheme in Royal Docks. Prices from £310 per week for a one-bedroom apartment. foliolondon.co.uk
* Millbrook Park, Mill Hill NW7
Shared-Ownership homes launching Saturday
Seven Shared-Ownership properties are available, with one and two-bed apartments and three-bed townhouses as part of the 83-acre former Inglis Army Barracks site on the edge of Mill Hill’s conservation area. Transport into London takes 30 minutes from Mill Hill East Underground. Prices are tbc. genesishahomes.org.uk