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Minimum floor space requirement should be removed, says think tank

Asian super-cities such as Hong Kong and Tokyo are famous for their cramped living quarters, but now a think tank believes ‘micro-homes’ could be a solution to London’s housing crisis for millennials.

Micro-homes are purpose designed flats with floor space below 37sqm that make ‘innovative’ use of space and are often accompanied by communal spaces such as games rooms and open living spaces.

Report author Vera Kichanova, of the Adam Smith Institute, believes living in these spaces would improve happiness levels of young workers as they will be ‘closer to bars and restaurants.’

She also says without micro-homes many Londoners may be forced to leave the city altogether because of high rents and crammed peak hour commuter trains.

Ms Kircher adds that relocating from London to Manchester could be an ‘exasperating’ experience for millennials.

In her report, which is called ‘Size Doesn’t Matter’,  Ms Kichanova lays the blame for millennial housing woes ‘squarely at the feet of government—specifically the Town and Country Planning Act 1947.’

‘By requiring local or central government permission for building projects, the Act detached house prices from just the cost of construction and tied it heavily to a price for land that was heavily rationed,’ she said.

The report says that if planners approve more ‘micro-home’ developments it could help London become a denser, more liveable city. However, she does concede in the report that experts point out that minimal standards for floor space are set for a reason: ‘to prevent profit-seeking developers from depriving low-income citizens of their human dignity by putting them into “shoeboxes”. ‘

The Adam Smith Institute’s head of research Matthew Lesh added: ‘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.’

Read the report here.

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