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It’s only three pages long, but it could lead to bigger changes on your next development… quite literally! The first national technical housing standard has been published by the Department for Communities and Local Government… The Nationally Described Space Standard.

This defines how small a home is allowed to be. Local planning authorities who impose minimum space requirements on dwellings are no longer allowed to set their own targets – they must now adopt this national standard. We expect other authorities who, up until now, have not set minimum space targets, will also begin adopting this guidance.

This should make things simpler for developers – there is now one rule which applies to all councils in England. Authorities are not allowed to ask for anything other than the National Space Standard. The only time this standard can be over-ruled is when a local authority asks for the developer to meet Category 3 of the new Approved Document Part M (This applies to homes designed for wheelchair users). In these cases, larger minimum standards will apply. This new standard went live on March 27th 2015, and become enforceable immediately – this means it applies to all applications going forward. Councils can only set their own targets on planning submissions made before this date.

It’s worth remembering the idea behind National Standards is that they’re not Building Regulations – they are administered by local planning authorities and not Building Control. Also, The National Space Standard only applies in England. Welsh and Scottish authorities are still allowed to set their own minimum dwelling sizes.

So, what are the nationally described space standards? The minimum size of a dwelling is calculated based on the number of bedrooms, the number of occupants which the home is designed for, and the number of storeys. Starting at the small end, a one-bed flat designed for one person with a shower room must be at least 37 sqm in internal floor area, and contain at least 1 sqm of built-in storage.

A standard two storey, two bedroom house must be no smaller than 70sqm, and a three bedroom must be no smaller than 84 sqm. At least 2 sqm of built-in storage must be included. At the large end of the scale, a six bedroom house over three storeys and designed to accommodate eight people needs to be at least 138sqm large and contain 4sqm of built-in storage. If you have concerns that your next development may fall foul of the new National Space Standards, we can complete an audit on your plans. Call us on 08458 386 387 or email

Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 10.08.2015.