Westminster city council has announced a new ban on the building of new homes that are of a super size. The new building limit of 150 sq. metres has been developed as a way of encouraging the building of properties that are of a much more affordable nature in an area of the capital city where inequality continues to widen and the average Londoner cannot afford to rent a property comfortably, let alone buy a new home to live in.
The ban relates to the proliferation of projects where oligarchs and members of the ultra-rich global elite have been building large numbers of ‘super-size properties’. It is hoped that the ban will create some more free space that can be used to build a range of affordable homes in the area.
Westminster Council includes the areas of Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. The council has announced that the plan has been developed due to ‘Westminster’s position in the global housing market’, and how it can create demand for super-size properties. When the area is used primarily for the use of the mega-rich, it ends up under-optimising the development of what is already a scarce resource of land in the area.
The super-size houses have become known as ‘Monopoly board–style’ homes. By banning these types of home it is thought that there will be a greater chance for all Londoners to be able to afford homes in the area that has become reserved for the elite alone in recent years. The announcement comes as part of the wider Westminster development plan, which is to run from 2019-2040. As part of this plan there is a desire to build over 10,000 affordable homes in the area before 2040.
The specific merits of the ban were developed after looking at the specific sizes of the large developments that have recently been approved and built in the area. 150 sq. metres is already 50% larger than the average private home in the borough of Westminster. Preventing homes from being built above this threshold will still allow for the rich and famous to build homes of a generous size, meeting the demand in the area and the marketplace. Alongside this though, it allows for a certain balance with other housing needs in the city and the need for greater numbers of affordable housing over the coming decades, as more and more people are priced out of the housing market in the capital.
In the past decade the average size of a home in the UK has been decreasing, with an average of 67.8 sq. metres of living space in new homes built in that time. This figure includes all living areas, bathrooms and kitchens, but not any hallways and staircases. As inequality has continued to widen in the borough, the local council has felt it necessary to act now, as it is an area where very few people can actually afford to buy or rent a property, unless they have bags of cash and equity to their name.