Shrinking homes? The geographies of small domestic properties in London, 2010-2021

Phil Hubbard, Jon Reades, Hendrik Walter, Catrin Preston

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In the last decade, the UK’s media have highlighted an apparent rise in the number of homes below the recommended Nationally Described Space Standard for a one- person, one-bed home. However, evidence for the growth of ‘micro-apartments’ is mixed, with existing data making it difficult to map the geographies of substandard homes below the Local Authority scale. Focusing on London, this paper uses Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) as a source of floorspace data, matching this to the Land Registry’s Price Paid Data (PPD) and information from the London Planning Database. It quantifies the number of sub-standard homes in London registered for an EPC 2010-21, maps their location at the MSOA (neighbourhood) level, and compares property prices for small and larger homes. Focusing on newly-built homes, it shows that the numbers of small homes doubled across this period with growth in select outer London ‘hotspots’ accounting for much of this. It also demonstrates the overall numbers of small homes rose despite the formal incorporation of NDSS in the London Plan 2016, with the by-passing of space standards in property conversions under Permitted Development Rights, 2013-21 appearing relatively insignificant in explaining these temporal and spatial trends. Finally, it shows that the price per square metre of small homes often far exceeds that of much larger homes in the same area. While recognising the limitations of EPC data, our findings point to the need for further exploration of the enforcement of space standards, not least because it is often assumed that building more, smaller homes in the capital will create more affordable homes for Londoners.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023


  • Housing
  • Planning
  • Gentrification


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