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Would you live in one of London's new micro flats?

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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We’re not ashamed to admit that we have a bit of a thing for tiny homes.

We’ve marvelled over Tokyo’s cubed apartments and cooed at the thought of having a New York nook. We’ve even fantasised about spending the night in our own minimalist, hanging bed.

But while we can appreciate the joy in miniature interiors, we’re not entirely convinced by the thought of shelling out to rent one of London’s proposed “micro flats”.

The brainchild of UK-based developer U+i, the micro flats would be built in a central London location and offered at an “affordable” rent, in order to help those struggling to keep up with the costs of living in the city.

Which all sounds fine and good, until you consider the fact that the flats would be built with around half of the recommended amount of space.

A New York nook? Don't mind if we do

A New York nook? Don't mind if we do

The company, which is said to be in discussion with a number of London boroughs to get cracking on building the new flats, has proposed plans including flats with just 19 sq m of floor space – a far cry from the Greater London Authority’s recommended standard of 37 sq ft minimum.

The flats would be offered at London Living Rent prices, which are determined by individual boroughs across the capital and set on a third of the average household income, but when you consider the amount of space you get in return for the cost, the benefits might feel questionable.

And charities have raised concerns about the living standards such tiny homes would be able to offer.



Speaking to stylist.co.uk, Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “At Shelter, we know that room to live is so important for people’s wellbeing and these micro homes just aren’t big enough. We need decent homes, not rabbit hutches. And the sad fact is, smaller homes won’t always mean cheaper homes.”

Neate added that these “rabbit hutches” would bring in a great profit for the developers, while forcing people who need housing to pay through the nose for a ridiculously small slice of accommodation.

“With housing demand massively outstripping supply developers can still set prices at a premium, meaning bigger profits for them while people get less for their money,” she added. “We urgently need to build more decent homes at affordable rents.”

Owning a home is now a pipe dream for many Londoners

Owning a home is now a pipe dream for many Londoners

Speaking about U+i’s plans for the tiny flats, deputy chief executive Richard Upton told The Telegraph, “People increasingly want to live, work and play in the same place and we want to develop something that not only re-fills hollow London, but also brings communities back to life and delivers real social and economic benefits.”

While this is, of course, an admirable quest, it remains to be seen exactly how much the company plan to charge for rent on each flat – although, depressingly, John Lewis has reportedly already been working with the company on creating furniture designed specifically for small flats.

News of the micro flats comes hot on the heels of Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, pledging £25m to developer Pocket to build 1,000 small flats in the capital – which, encouragingly, would comply with the London space standards.

Here’s hoping for more initiatives like that one – so Londoners can enjoy affordable housing in spaces bigger than those meant for a pet rabbit.

Images: iStock

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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