There is no doubt that property in London, whether to purchase or rent, is far too expensive for many who work there. Extremely long days commuting can and do have an impact upon productivity and as a consequence there is a growing trend towards micro flats. These extremely small dwellings are commonplace in other major cities around the world and it seems as though London is the next target.
Many people have been monitoring London’s so-called housing crisis for many years and believe the situation is now at critical point. The cost of London property may have fallen after the Brexit vote but using any minimum 2 year performance period it has moved higher at a rate which is often a multiple of wage inflation and core inflation. So, whether we like it or not there is a housing crisis in many areas of London and perhaps micro flats are the way forward?
Sites have already been identified
A number of real estate development companies have already identified sites upon which they believe so-called micro flats could be built. These companies will need planning permission from the various inner London boroughs because the smallest of these properties will have just 19 m² of floor space which is far less than the recommended 37 m² – which is the Greater London Authority standard. While 19 m² of floor space may seem extremely small it is surprising how much developers have been able to fit into micro flats in other areas of the world.
Benefit to local economies
A report by the think tank Development Economics recently suggested that the building of smaller/micro flats on just five example sites could have a material impact upon the local economy. The think tank estimated these dwellings could bring in an additional £200 million of income and in excess of 1000 new jobs in central London. This is before we even begin to look at increased productivity!
As we touched on above, the cost of property in London continues to increase and this has forced many people to commute longer and longer distances to work in central London. There is no way this can be beneficial for their individual productivity and the productivity of their employer as a whole. So, surely the introduction of micro flats, as long as they are heavily regulated and monitored by local boroughs, offer the potential of a win-win situation for all parties?
John Lewis catering for small/micro flats
Bellwether retailer John Lewis has recently introduced an array of new furniture lines to cater for the expected growth in the number of small flats/micro flats in London and other areas of the UK. Many of these new furniture lines are innovative, space saving and offer good value in the longer term. If the likes of John Lewis are already catering for dwellings of a reduced size we can only assume this is a trend which is emerging amongst their customer base. Companies such as John Lewis would not introduce a specific new line focused on smaller dwellings unless the company was convinced the market was already there and growing.