HOME FRONT with Jenny Knight
London’s housing crisis is sparking a revolution in design that will see workers living in micro flats, says Jenny Knight. Developers are now building tiny homes to meet the demand from young professionals who can no longer afford to live in the expensive Capital.
For example London-based firm U+1 is working on plans to build thousands of flats in the centre that are half the government recommended size to cater for workers struggling to buy or rent. In South London Pocket Homes is launching a development on a constrained site in Wandsworth to supply 86 homes including 53 flats that will be just 38 square meters in size. The tower in Mapleton Crescent will be a unique, triangular-shaped building with panoramic views across London. The idea is to create more starter homes for those priced out of London.
Although the one-bed flats are small the communal areas including a roof terrace, a shared lounge and a striking lobby where people can socialise or work on their laptops, make up for the lack of individual space. The ‘affordable Pocket homes’, are set to be sold next year at a discount of at least 20 per cent below local property prices. According to Pocket, the Wandsworth homes will be offered to ‘middle-income Londoners who are salaried out of social housing and priced out of the property market’ and aimed at those with a household income of less than £66,000. A spokesman says: “We expect the project to set an aspirational new standard for what affordable starter homes can be in London.” To emphasise the trend for micro living John Lewis is working on a new range of furniture to fit into smaller flats.
It all sounds a great way to enable more people to buy or rent their own homes but the housing charity Shelter warns that unless the design is exemplary the trend could lead to rabbit hutch homes. “The John Lewis range of affordable furnishings for compact living were originally designed for university students. The range includes a table which extends to seat eight people, a sofa that pulls out to become a bed, a small sofa and chairs. The range has been used to fit out a pair of micro-flats that have been mocked up in the Victoria headquarters of property developers U+I, who are lobbying for the chance to develop ‘compact flats’ for rental in zone 1 buildings in London. The idea is to ensure the town flats would be available for rental only, meaning that they could not be sold on by speculators and would remain as a pool of flats for London workers.”