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Policy H12 Housing size mix


  1. To determine the appropriate mix of unit sizes in relation to the number of bedrooms for a scheme, applicants and decision-makers should have regard to:
    1. the range of housing need and demand identified by the London Strategic Housing Market Assessment and, where relevant, local assessments
    2. the requirement to deliver mixed and inclusive neighbourhoods
    3. the need to deliver a range of unit types at different price points across London
    4. the mix of uses in the scheme
    5. the range of tenures in the scheme
    6. the nature and location of the site, with a higher proportion of one and two bed units generally more appropriate in more central or urban locations
    7. the aim to optimise housing potential on sites
    8. the ability of new development to reduce pressure on conversion and sub-division of existing stock
    9. the role of one and two bed units in freeing up family housing
    10. the potential for custom-build and community-led housing schemes.
  2. Generally, schemes consisting mainly of one-person units and/or one-bedroom units should be resisted.
  3. Boroughs should not set prescriptive dwelling size mix requirements (in terms of number of bedrooms) for market and intermediate homes.
  4. For low cost rent, boroughs should provide guidance on the size of units required (by number of bedrooms) to ensure affordable housing meets identified needs. This guidance should take account of:
    1. the criteria set out in part A
    2. the local and strategic need for affordable family accommodation
    3. local issues of overcrowding
    4. the impact of welfare reform
    5. the cost of delivering larger units and the availability of grant.

Table 4.3 shows the mix of homes identified in the London 2017 Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

Policy H12 Housing size mix sets out all the issues that applicants and boroughs should take into account when considering the mix of homes on a site. Boroughs should not set policies or guidance that require set proportions of different-sized (in terms of number of bedrooms) market or intermediate units to be delivered. Such policies are inflexible, often not implemented effectively and generally do not reflect the optimum mix for a site taking account of all the factors set out in part A of Policy H12 Housing size mix. Moreover, they do not necessarily meet the identified need for which they are being required; for example, larger units are often required by boroughs in order to meet the needs of families but many such units are instead occupied by sharers. In addition, local and strategic housing need figures for market homes will be heavily influenced by the assumptions made in the assessment about the level of under-occupation in the private sector. It should be noted that in terms of delivering mixed and inclusive communities, a neighbourhood may currently have an over-concentration of a particular size of unit and a new development could help redress the balance.

Family units have historically been considered to be those consisting of three or more bedrooms. However, as many families do live in two-bedroom units this should be taken into account when assessing the needs that different sized units can meet (in terms of bedrooms) and the design and approach to management of a development both for market and affordable housing.

Well-designed one- and two- bedroom units in suitable locations can also attract those wanting to downsize from their existing homes, and this ability to free up existing family stock should be considered when assessing the unit mix of a new build development.

While one-bedroom units play a very important role in meeting housing need, and provision in new developments can help reduce the pressure to convert and subdivide existing larger homes, one-person and one-bed units are the least flexible unit type. Thus, unless supported by the borough as meeting an identified need, schemes consisting of over 10 units which mainly comprise of one-person/one-bed units should be avoided to ensure that there is a mix of unit sizes. Specific guidance on large-scale purpose-built shared living schemes can be found in Policy H18 Large-scale purpose-built shared living.

As part of their housing strategy functions, local authorities are required to have an understanding of housing needs in their area and this, along with their local Housing Register, will provide the evidence for the size of affordable homes (in terms of number of bedrooms) required to meet identified need. Combined with the considerations set out in part A of Policy H12 Housing size mix, this information should inform local policy or guidance about the size (in terms of number of bedrooms) of low-cost rented units expected on a development. This clarity about the unit size mix for affordable homes, taken together with the threshold approach to affordable housing, will help ensure applicants and landowners understand the cost implications of overall affordable housing requirements when formulating development proposals and purchasing land. Boroughs should take account of the availability of grant funding when producing guidance or policy on this issue.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are an important part of London’s housing offer, reducing pressure on other elements of the housing stock. Their quality can, however, give rise to concern. Where they are of a reasonable standard they should generally be protected and the net effects of any loss should be reflected in Annual Monitoring Reports. In considering proposals which might constrain this provision, including Article 4 Directions affecting changes between Use Classes C3 and C4, boroughs should take into account the strategic as well as local importance of HMOs.