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Policy D4 Housing quality and standards


  1. To optimise the development of housing on sites across London a range of housing typologies will need to be built. To bring forward development on constrained sites, innovative housing designs that meet the requirements of this policy, including minimum space standards, are supported. In ensuring high quality design, housing developments should consider the elements that enable the home to become a comfortable place of retreat and should not differentiate between housing tenures.
  2. New homes should have adequately-sized rooms and convenient and efficient room layouts which are functional, fit for purpose and meet the changing needs of Londoners over their lifetimes. Particular account should be taken of the needs of children, disabled and older people.
  3. Qualitative aspects of a development are key to ensuring successful sustainable housing and should be fully considered in the design of any housing developments.
  4. Housing developments are required to meet the minimum standards below. These standards apply to all tenures and all residential accommodation that is self-contained.

Private internal space

  1. Dwellings must provide at least the gross internal floor area and built-in storage area set out in Table 3.1.
  2. A dwelling with two or more bedspaces must have at least one double (or twin) bedroom that is at least 2.75m wide. Every other additional double (or twin) bedroom must be at least 2.55m wide.
  3. A one bedspace single bedroom must have a floor area of at least 7.5 sqm and be at least 2.15m wide.
  4. A two bedspace double (or twin) bedroom must have a floor area of at least 11.5 sqm.
  5. Any area with a headroom of less than 1.5m is not counted within the Gross Internal Area unless used solely for storage (If the area under the stairs is to be used for storage, assume a general floor area of 1 sqm within the Gross Internal Area).
  6. Any other area that is used solely for storage and has a headroom of 0.9-1.5m (such as under eaves) can only be counted up to 50 per cent of its floor area, and any area lower than 0.9m is not counted at all.
  7. A built-in wardrobe counts towards the Gross Internal Area and bedroom floor area requirements, but should not reduce the effective width of the room below the minimum widths set out above. Any built-in area in excess of 0.72 sqm in a double bedroom and 0.36 sqm in a single bedroom counts towards the built-in storage requirement.
  8. The minimum floor to ceiling height must be 2.5m for at least 75 per cent of the Gross Internal Area of each dwelling.

Private outside space

  1. A minimum of 5 sqm of private outdoor space should be provided for 1-2 person dwellings and an extra 1 sqm should be provided for each additional occupant. This does not count towards the minimum Gross Internal Area space standards required in Table 3.1.
  2. The minimum depth and width for all balconies and other private external spaces should be 1.5m.


  1. Residential development should maximise the provision of dual aspect dwellings and normally avoid the provision of single aspect dwellings. A single aspect dwelling should only be provided where it is considered a more appropriate design solution to meet the requirements of Policy D1 London’s form and characteristics than a dual aspect dwelling and it can be demonstrated that it will have adequate passive ventilation, daylight and privacy, and avoid overheating.
  2. The design of development should provide sufficient daylight and sunlight to new housing that is appropriate for its context, whilst avoiding overheating, minimising overshadowing and maximising the usability of outside amenity space.
  3. Dwellings should be designed with adequate and easily accessible storage space that supports the separate collection of dry recyclables (for at least card, paper, mixed plastics, metals, glass) and food.

The Mayor will produce guidance on the implementation of this policy for all housing tenures.

Table 3.1 - Minimum space standards for new dwellings

Table showing minimum space standards for new residential units in square meters. These range from 39 for a one bedroom one person unit to 138 for a six bed three storey house
New dwelling in this context includes new build, conversions and change of use Notes to Table 3.1 b: bedrooms p: persons * Where a studio / one bedroom one person one bedspace (i.e. one single bedroom) dwelling has a shower room instead of a bathroom, the floor area may be reduced from 39 sqm to 37 sqm, as shown bracketed. The Gross Internal Area (GIA) of a dwelling is defined as the total floor space measured between the internal faces of perimeter walls that enclose a dwelling. This includes partitions, structural elements, cupboards, ducts, flights of stairs and voids above stairs. GIA should be measured and denoted in square metres (sqm). Built-in storage areas are included within the overall GIA and include an allowance of 0.5 sqm for fixed services or equipment such as a hot water cylinder, boiler or heat exchanger.

Housing can be delivered in different physical forms depending on the context and site characteristics. Ensuring homes are of adequate size and fit for purpose is crucial in an increasingly dense city therefore this Plan sets out minimum space standards for dwellings of different sizes in Policy D4 Housing quality and standards and Table 3.1. This is based on the minimum gross internal floor area (GIA) relative to the number of occupants and takes into account commonly required furniture and the spaces needed for different activities and moving around. This means applicants should state the number of bedspaces/ occupiers a home is designed to accommodate rather than simply the number of bedrooms. When designing homes for more than eight bedspaces, applicants should allow approximately 10 sqm per extra bedspace.

The space standards are minimums which applicants are encouraged to exceed. However, due to the level of housing need and the requirement to make the best use of land, boroughs are encouraged to resist dwellings with floor areas significantly above those set out in Table 3.1 as they do not constitute an efficient use of land. The standards apply to all new self-contained dwellings of any tenure. The provision of additional services and spaces as part of a housing development, such as building management and communal amenity space, is not a justification for failing to deliver these minimum standards.

To address the impacts of the urban heat island effect and the fact that the majority of residential developments in London are flats, a minimum ceiling height of 2.5m for at least 75 per cent of the gross internal area is required so that new housing is of adequate quality, especially in terms of daylight penetration, ventilation and cooling, and sense of space. The height of ceilings, doorways and other thresholds should support the creation of an inclusive environment and therefore be sufficiently high to not cause an obstruction. To allow for some essential equipment in the ceilings of kitchens and bathrooms up to 25 per cent of the gross internal area of the dwelling can be lower than 2.5 m. However, any reduction in ceiling height below 2.5 m should be the minimum necessary for this equipment, and not cause an obstruction.

Dual aspect dwellings with opening windows on at least two sides have many inherent benefits. These include better daylight, a greater chance of direct sunlight for longer periods, natural cross-ventilation, a greater capacity to address overheating, mitigating pollution, a choice of views, access to a quiet side of the building, greater flexibility in the use of rooms, and more potential for future adaptability by altering the use of rooms.

Single aspect dwellings are more difficult to ventilate naturally and are more likely to overheat, and should normally be avoided. Single aspect dwellings that are north facing, contain three or more bedrooms or are exposed to noise levels above which significant adverse effects on health and quality of life occur should not be permitted. The design of single aspect dwellings must demonstrate that all habitable rooms and the kitchen are provided with adequate passive ventilation, privacy and daylight, and that the orientation enhances amenity, including views. It must also demonstrate how they will avoid overheating without reliance on energy intensive mechanical cooling systems.

Private open space should be practical in terms of its shape and utility, and care should be taken to ensure the space offers good amenity. All dwellings should have level access to one or more of the following forms of private outside spaces: a garden, terrace, roof garden, courtyard garden or balcony. The use of roof areas, including podiums, and courtyards for additional private or shared amenity or garden space is encouraged.

Communal play space for children and young people should be provided in developments with an estimated occupancy of ten children or more in accordance with the requirement of Policy S4 Play and informal recreation.

Housing developments should be designed to maximise tenure integration, and affordable housing units should have the same external appearance as private housing. All entrances will need to be well integrated with the rest of the development and should be indistinguishable from each other.

Development should help create a more socially inclusive London. Gated forms of development that could realistically be provided as a public street are unacceptable and alternative means of security should be achieved through utilising the principles of good urban design.

A variety of approaches to housing typologies and layout of buildings should be explored to make the best use of land and create high quality, comfortable and attractive homes. For example, increasing ceiling heights and having bay windows can optimise daylight and sunlight and allow buildings to be closer together than can otherwise be achieved.

The following qualitative aspects should be addressed in the design of residential developments:

  • the built form, massing and height of the development is appropriate for the surrounding context, and alternative arrangements to accommodate the same number of units or bedspaces with a different relationship to the surrounding context have been explored early in the design process (making use of the measures in D6.E), particularly where a proposal is above the applicable density indicated in part C of Policy D6 Optimising housing density
  • the urban layout, including spaces between and around buildings forms a coherent pattern of streets and blocks
  • public, communal and private open spaces relate well to each other and the wider neighbourhood
  • the layout of the scheme maximises the extent of active frontages onto public facing sides and, where appropriate, surrounds uses that have inactive frontages with uses that have active frontages to engender street-based activity and provide a sense of safety
  • the experience of arrival, via footpaths, entrances and shared circulation spaces is comfortable, accessible and fit for purpose
  • communal open spaces provide sufficient space, are easily accessed from all related dwellings and are designed to support an appropriate balance of informal social activity and play opportunities for various age groups
  • the private amenity space for each dwelling is usable and has a balance of openness and protection, appropriate for its outlook and orientation
  • outdoor spaces are located to be appreciated from inside, and internal spaces are able to take advantage of good weather and designed to achieve ease of access to external spaces
  • blocks and floorplans are orientated to optimise opportunities for visual interest through a range of immediate and longer range views, with the views from individual dwellings considered at an early design stage
  • the dwellings and outside spaces are fit for purpose and comfortable
  • the dwellings and outside spaces are able to be easily adapted to meet the changing and diverse needs of different occupiers over their lifetimes
  • window cleaning and other basic cleaning and maintenance activities can be carried out by residents easily
  • the site layout, common parts, design of individual units and buildings, and orientation of rooms and windows provide privacy and adequate daylight for all residents, as well as clear and convenient routes with a feeling of safety
  • the design or the layout and orientation helps reduce noise from common areas to individual dwellings
  • the design of developments, and orientation and layout of individual dwellings and common spaces helps meet the challenges of a changing climate by ensuring homes are suitable for warmer summers and wetter winters
  • sufficient level, secure and convenient externally accessible storage is provided for cycles, deliveries, and other bulky items
  • recycling and waste disposal facilities are convenient in their operation and location, appropriately integrated, and designed to work effectively for residents, management and collection services[26].


[26] See also the London Waste and Recycling Board’s Waste Management Planning Advice for New Flatted Properties 2014.

Other components of housing design are also important to improving the attractiveness of new homes as well as the Mayor’s wider objectives to improve the quality of Londoners’ environment. The Mayor intends to produce a single guidance document which clearly sets out the standards which need to be met in order to implement Policy D4 Housing quality and standards for all housing tenures, as well as wider qualitative aspects of housing developments. This will build on the guidance set out in the 2016 Housing SPG and the previous London Housing Design Guide.