Barnet housing scheme where 'rabbit hutch' homes are smaller than a Travelodge room

Zardoz Greek zardos777 at
Fri Mar 31 13:02:20 BST 2017

London housing scheme where 'rabbit hutch' homes are smaller than a Travelodge room

Mark Dorman
Yahoo Finance UK28 March 2017
Residents have described homes in the plans for Barnet House as rabbit hutches (Getty Images)
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Residents have described homes in the plans for Barnet House as rabbit hutches (Getty Images)

Dozens of residents have hit out at plans to squeeze more than 250 studio flats into an 11-storey office block conversion.

The smallest is just 16sq metres, half the size of a room at a Travelodge, prompting some to claim the development is “immoral”.

Others among the dozens of objections likened the proposed development to a series of “dog kennels” or “rabbit hutches”, while another said: “People are not cattle. In fact, I would object to cattle having to live this way.”

Plans for Barnet House, which is currently sub-let as offices by Barnet Borough Council, show almost all of the 254 flats will be smaller than the national minimum space standards of 37 sq metres (44 sq yards) for a single person.

However, under newly relaxed planning laws, this is legal as it would be making use of underused office space for much needed housing.

As such, while Barnet Borough Council objects to the application, it cannot reject it on grounds of the size of the homes proposed.
An illustration of the size of flats on the 7th floor of the proposed scheme
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An illustration of the size of flats on the 7th floor of the proposed scheme

Developer Meadow Partners is working with HKR Architects on the proposal. Neither wanted to comment.

Barnet council said that it has a sub-lease on Barnet House until 2032. Prior approval is subject to a 21-day consultation so residents can have a say but the local planning authority can only consider transport and highways impacts of the development, contamination risks on the site and flooding risks on the site.

Decisions on prior approval do not go before its planning committee and such developments are exempt from planning standards.

If Barnet House follows the office to residential “permitted development” route then the council will not be able to apply its residential space standards.

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“It is always difficult for a local authority when something is happening in its area over which it has no control,” said Cllr Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council.

“The government has given developers power to convert businesses premises into residential premises under permitted development.

“The sizes of some of the flats would not be what we think are appropriate living spaces for our residents and we do not support the scheme in its current form.”
Young people are increasingly being priced out of Britain's housing market (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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Young people are increasingly being priced out of Britain’s housing market (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Bank of mum and dad
Home ownership has fallen among 25-29 year-olds by more than half in the last 25 years from 63% in 1990 to 31% most recently, a report by the Social Mobility Commission said.

The Commission, a government advisory body, said a historically high proportion of young people was relying on the bank of mum and dad to finance their first-time house purchase.

Earlier this year, Sajid Javid, the communities minister admitted Britain’s housing market was broken as average prices were now 7.5 times average salaries. He said home ownership was a “distant dream” for young families.

Recent house price data shows just how difficult it is for millennials to get on the property ladder as average asking prices hit £310,108, according to Rightmove.

Objections mount
Neighbours of the scheme in Barnet were practically unanimous in their objections, however.

One decried the “dog kennel-size accommodation”, describing it as “immoral”, while another wrote: “This is no way to treat human beings.”

Another commented: “To provide 254 units, most of which are tiny cubicles, only suited to student or similar use in this location is a travesty of what proper planning control is supposed to be about.”

Others objected to the “tiny, cramped” spaces offering not even a basic standard of living, and raised concerns about the impact on local GP services, schools and transport.

“Why not at least halve the number of flats allowed and provide people with decent places to live. London also needs affordable social housing as well as pricier flats too. And families will inevitably end up living in these ridiculous ‘hutches’,” another resident said.

Only three commenters appeared to support the scheme, citing the need for affordable housing in the area.
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