Housing design

The Mayor is improving the quality of both new and existing homes in London through investment programmes and development of land holdings.

A tradition of excellent housing

London needs high quality homes that perform well for Londoners, that stand the test of time and that complement London’s rich architectural history.


The capital has a proud tradition of excellent housing. From merchants’ houses gracing Georgian squares to the suburban Victorian terrace, Edwardian mansion blocks to quality modern housing: all successfully blend elegance with functionality.

Housing design standards

(a)    2016-21 programme

The Mayor’s Homes for Londoners: Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21 (AHP 2016-21) introduced a number of changes to the way that affordable housing projects are assessed, funded and monitored.

The funding guidance  requires projects funded through this programme to meet the housing design and sustainability standards set out in the London Plan and relevant Supplementary Planning Guidance (and, in particular, the Housing SPG, published in March 2016).

The funding guidance states that, in the exceptional circumstances where an AHP 2016-21 project has a planning permission which does not fully comply with the London Plan design standards, providers will need to specify areas of non-compliance.  In the spirit of streamlining the administration of this programme, non-compliance is captured at practical completion stage only (and not at start on site). At that stage, providers need to answer questions in the GLA-OPS online system to tell us which (if any) of those standards the scheme fails to meet and how many homes are affected (this is a contractual requirement).

The tables below specify the design standards where non-compliance will be recorded throughout the 2016-21 affordable homes programme. We expect compliance with the remaining standards in the London Plan and the Affordable Housing SPG, but these particular standards have been selected on the basis that the London Plan’s requirements differ from national building regulations and are not fully captured by the design standards in the National Planning Policy Framework. For standards in the list below which providers have confirmed as met in the OPS completion screens, we will expect providers to maintain records which provide satisfactory evidence for compliance auditors.

Environmental standards


There is at least one long stay cycle storage space per studio or one bedroom flat and there are at least two long stay cycle spaces per dwelling for all other dwellings


There are at least two short stay cycle parking spaces, plus an additional space per 40 units for projects which have more than 40 units.


Dwellings that are north facing OR have three or more bedrooms are dual aspect.


For all dwellings - direct sunlight will enter at least one habitable room for part of the day.


The development is at least ‘air quality neutral’ and will not lead to further deterioration of existing poor air quality (such as areas designated as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs)).


The development meets the following minimum targets for carbon dioxide emissions reduction. Improvement against 2013 Building Regulations:
• Scheme completing in 2014 – 2016: 35 per cent
• Scheme completing in 2016 – 2036: zero carbon


The maximum water use is designed to be 110 litres per person per day.


Storage facilities for waste and recycling containers meet local authority requirements AND meet at least British Standard BS5906:2005 Code of Practice for Waste Management in Buildings.

Space & accessibility standards


All units meet or exceed the Mayor's space standards for gross internal area

(Details in table 3.3 in Chapter 3 of the London Plan:https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/current-london-plan/london-plan-chapter-3/policy-35-quality-and)


90% of units meet Building Regulation requirement M4(2) ‘accessible and adaptable dwellings’ & the remaining 10% meet Building Regulation requirement M4(3) ‘wheelchair user dwellings’.


There is at least 5 sq. m. of private outdoor space for each 1-2 person dwelling AND there is an extra 1 sq. m. for each additional occupant.


The minimum depth and width for all balconies and other private external spaces is 1500 mm.


For each dwelling: floor to ceiling height is at least 2.5 metres for at least 75 per cent of the gross internal area.

Security & access standards


Where an access core serves four or more dwellings, an access control system with entry phones in all dwellings is linked to a main front door with electronic lock release


If :
the scheme has more than 25 dwellings served by one core
• OR the potential occupancy of the dwellings served by one core exceeds 100 bed spaces
• OR there are more than eight dwellings provided per floor

…is one of the following provided?

1.      a 24-hour concierge OR
2.      An access control system featuring audio-visual verification



At least two lifts serve all dwellings entered at the seventh floor (eighth storey) and above

Additional criteria for supported and specialist schemes


For schemes with a focus on provision for older people

The project adheres to the HAPPI guidelines


For other schemes

The project adheres to the design standards set out in your approved bid

(b)   Legacy programmes


In 2010 the Mayor published the interim London Housing Design Guide, establishing a common set of housing design standards across all tenures in London. The London Funding Standards Framework applied to the Mayor’s affordable housing investment programmes for 2011-15 and 2015-18. This was implemented through the submission of the London Design Pro-forma EXCEL at specified stages in the development of funded schemes.

Recognising housing design quality

The Mayor wants to recognise and celebrate the best housing design in London. That’s why he supports the Housing Design Awards, which recognised numerous new housing schemes in London as being amongst the best in the country. 


Housing design quality in London is also recognised at the Mayor’s Planning Awards and through the Good Growth by Design initiative. 


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