Zaha Hadid Architects chief Patrik Schumacher has urged ministers to relax minimum space standards to allow EasyJet-style budget housing
Schumacher said permitting smaller studio flats to be built would bring a new income group into the housing market.
The comments came in an essay for right-wing think-tank the Adam Smith Institute, titled Only Capitalism can Solve the Housing Crisis.
Schumacher, principal at Zaha Hadid Architects, wrote: ‘Currently studio flats below 38m² are not permitted. Yet units half that size, built at an earlier time, are rare and thus at the moment overpriced, hotly desired commodities for rent or for sale.
‘Lifting this prohibition would allow a whole new (lower) income group, which is now excluded, to enter the market. This move would both boost overall unit numbers and affordability.’
He said entrepreneurs would create homes for people on low incomes if the government relaxed the law.
He added: ‘If McDonalds or Subway can deliver delicious eating-out experiences, and EasyJet can deliver air travel to this income group, then a Taylor Wimpey should be able to deliver decent, truly affordable housing, but only if government withdraws and lets the market get to work.’
Schumacher – who earlier this year called for swathes of central London to become car-free zones – said arguments about space standards often become emotional.
He said: ‘Many people who don’t understand how markets work seem afraid that the liberalisation of standards implies that people are then “forced” to live in “rabbit hutches”. Markets never work via force, but always via being forced to adjust to consumer preferences.’
‘Those who are now making the hard choice between paying 80 per cent of their income on a central flat versus commuting from afar will in the liberalised future appreciate new options and perhaps choose to pay only 60 per cent for a smaller but more central flat.
‘For many young professionals who are out and about networking 24/7, a small, clean, private hotel-room sized central patch serves their needs perfectly well. They don’t need paternalist politicians with outmoded standards to protect them.’
Government guidance published in 2015 said a one-person, one-bedroom home could measure 37m² if it contained a shower room, rather than a bath.