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Could micro-housing solve London's property crisis?

An influential think-tank wants local authorities to relax their rules on property sizes to deal with the housing crisis.

A report from the Adam Smith Institute says so-called micro-housing – modern, custom-designed units for single occupants – could be a solution to the shortage of homes in London in particular.

Reform planning system

The report, entitled Size Doesn’t Matter, says many people who work in the capital have been forced into long commutes because of high prices and too few properties to buy or rent.

Others are living in overcrowded shared flats or houses, while some have been forced to leave London altogether.

Vera Kichanova wrote the report for the think-tank. She said micro-housing will lead to reform of the planning system and allow land to be used more efficiently.

While not everyone would want to live in a very small home, she says expanding the choices available to Londoners would mean many could live more centrally, closer to work and entertainment at more affordable prices.

Comfortable but small

Other parts of the UK are already exploring how they can deal with increased housing demand and rising prices.

In December, councillors in Bristol over-ruled their own planning officials to give the go-ahead to dedicated single-occupancy dwellings. Developer Ecomotive will built one prefabricated home and convert an existing Victorian terraced property into one-bed homes.

The Adam Smith Institute report notes that micro-housing is not a sub-division of existing property. Instead these are modern, custom-designed homes that make smart use of space to give the occupant a comfortable, if small home to live in.

Partial solution to problem

Vera Kichanova wrote: “Micro-housing is not a panacea, but it can be a partial solution to the problem – a policy shortcut.

“Building micro-houses cannot (and should not) be a substitute for profound reform of housing regulation. Certainly, micro-flats are not a suitable form of housing for everyone, yet for a particular group of Londoners they can be a remedy.”