PM defends progress on housing and targets ‘tiny homes with inadequate storage’

Theresa May has said her Government has begun to turn around Britain’s housing crisis and called for better design standards for the future to prevent “tiny” homes being built.

The Prime Minister began her speech at Housing 2019, the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual event in Manchester, by joking about the last time she had been at this venue – her disastrous coughing fit during the 2017 Conservative Party conference speech.

She added: “And if anyone is planning on running on stage waving a P45…You are a little bit late.”

Mrs May said her 2015 manifesto commitment to deliver a million new homes by 2020 was on course to be achieved, with the number of extra homes being created in Manchester up by 12%, in Nottingham by 43% and in Birmingham by 80%.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Chartered Institute of Housing Conference at the Exchange Auditorium in Manchester
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Chartered Institute of Housing Conference at the Exchange Auditorium in Manchester

The Prime Minister said that while the job is not done, she had concentrated on “long-term structural problems” with the reform of planning rules and greater freedom for local authorities.

Britain’s 18 million renters had also been helped, she said, with capping the size of rent deposits and abolishing letting fees and plans to abolish “no fault” evictions with the repeal of section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act.

Mrs May added: “The fire at Grenfell Tower was a human tragedy on an unprecedented scale.

“But it also shone a much-needed light on the issues facing social housing and the people who live in it – not just within the Lancaster West estate, but right across the country.”

She announced the next stage of the Government’s action plan and timetable for implementing further reforms of social housing, to be published in September.

But she said there must not be a trade-off between “quality and quantity” and wanted to see developers only able to build homes “that are big enough for people to actually live in”.

Mrs May added: “Now I am no fan of regulation for the sake of regulation.

“But I cannot defend a system in which some owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage…

“Where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture…

“And where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom.

“It will be up to my successor in Downing Street to deal with this.”

Mrs May said it would be up to her successor to address these issues, but space standards should become universal and unavoidable, with clear and uniform national standards.

She added: “Now we must build bigger. We must build better. And we must build more beautiful.”

The previous speaker, Lord Richard Best, chairman of the Affordable Housing Commission, said the Government had made 24 “housing U-turns” on policy in previous years.

The Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday said the Government would struggle to meet its target to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the 2020s unless there is a significant increase in the rate of house building, with the number of new homes averaging just 177,000 a year between 2005-06 and 2017-18.