Micro City Living Might Just Be a Great Idea

Micro City Living Might Just Be a Great Idea

The recent Conservative Party Conference was filled with leading Government minister’s views and plans for the UK. Among those was housing minister Gavin Barwell. While he joins other, more prominent ministers in talking about introducing innovation into house building as a way to combat the UK’s growing need for lots of homes, quickly, he gave a real example of what he considers to be innovation that could work – micro apartments.
“I don’t know if anyone’s seen any of the schemes that Pocket housing [Pocket Living] have done where they’ve basically done a deal with the GLA [Greater London Authority] to get some flexibility on space standards,” Barwell said. “As a result they can offer a product well below market price.”

That flexibility is reducing the minimum standard size of a flat from the around 500 square foot for a one-bedroom flat to 400 square feet.

“Now look: most people, given the choice, would like to live in a nice big home. But I think for many young people – if I was 22 today, I would rather have the chance to own that than be priced out,” Barwell added.
Many people’s first thoughts about micro living – apartments under 500 sq feet, the current minimum for the UK – are a resounding ‘no thank you!’ But, when you take the time to think about it, it’s not actually that bad an idea.
First of all, there is definitely demand for smaller and cheaper homes in central, city locations. One glance at Pocket Living’s website – the company name-checked by Gavin Barwell – shows that out of their six current developments, four of them are fully reserved. Further research uncovers huge demand in US cities for small apartments and, with some of them coming in at under 300 sq feet, they really are micro.

So actually, maybe the housing minister is onto something? But, only targeting buyers is probably not the soundest of strategies. In Rhode Island in the US, there’s a huge waiting list of tenants for a number of 225 square foot apartments in a town called providence – and has been since they were refurbished in 2014. So, investors should also be among the target market in this instance.

In fact, micro-sized apartments offer an easy way for the Government to show BTL landlords some support, by ruling out homes under a certain size from the new stamp duty rules, perhaps?

Before we get carried away with this micro living idea, let’s not forget party conferences are a great place for ministers to gain support and show off their ideas. With that in mind, there’s no way of knowing how serious the housing minister is, or how far the Government is willing to go to get Britain building the homes that are needed up and down the country. But, wouldn’t it be great if they really are serious about house building and innovations?

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