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Could micro-homes be the affordable answer for Londoners?

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21/01/2019
Small, custom-designed units with communal living spaces could ease the capital's housing crisis
Could micro-homes be the affordable answer for Londoners?

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to your home, according to a new report published by the Adam Smith Institute.

The thinktank’s report suggests that micro-homes could help younger Londoners move into flats in the city centre close to places of work and leisure.

Restricted supply of new housing has led to sharp rises in both house prices and rents in central London in recent decades, with young Londoners priced out of the market.

How can micro homes help?

Micro-homes are purpose-designed flats with floor space below 37 square metres. That may not sound too appealing, but proponents say the developments make innovative use of space.

Despite the private, personal living areas being small, micro-housing is often accompanied by communal amenities such as games rooms and open living spaces that can help address loneliness.

Instead of the cramped sub-division of existing units, these are smart, modern, custom-designed units that make good use of space, and which have already won prestigious architectural awards, said the Institute.

Report author and urban policy researcher Vera Kichanova stresses that while micro-housing is not a panacea or a replacement for planning reform, it could be a partial solution for those in cities like London that want to live close to where they work, as well as close to bars and restaurants.

Without micro-homes many Londoners are forced to pack into crammed peak hour commuter trains, share living space with complete strangers, or leave the city altogether.

The Adam Smith Institute’s head of research Matthew Lesh said: “Small, but perfectly formed micro-homes would expand choice for young Londoners. There are many who would rather live close to the city centre, in a building full of amenities such as game rooms and co-working spaces, rather than spending hours commuting every day.

“London’s housing crisis is not just an economic problem, hurting growth because people cannot live where they would be most productive, it is also having very real and serious political ramifications. The lack of housing affordability is leading many to lose faith in the entire free market system.

“Housing policy reform is an urgent priority, and while micro-housing is no substitute for fundamental planning reform, it is an important first step.”

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