Yesterday the Royal Institute of British Architects produced the 2nd frightening report in 2 days, following the Unicef study on UK children. They found that new homes in Britain are the smallest in Europe, with many below the recommended size for the number of people they claim to house.
some of the figures:
58% of new home buyers in 2009 found there wasn't enough space for their furniture
70% said there wasn't enough room for their possessions (I can't believe they were all downsizing, but this might not actually be too bad, as most of us own more than our fair share of the worlds stuff.)
34% had no space to have friends over for dinner
48% had no space to entertain at all.
And that's just the inside. If you look at our main local housing development, there is one (very small) area of public green space, a triangle of grass enclosed by a brick wall. There are no front gardens, and many back gardens are about 4 metres square and on a 30 degree slope. Guess what? Since there's virtually no grass, and no space to store a mower, people are digging up the grass and replacing it with paving or stones. There's no space for the community to gather, and no plans for any community facilities, shops, or meeting places. Even plans for a school look shaky. What is taking shape is an arid sea of concrete, boxed in and soulless.
But what really struck me was that last stat above. Matthew 25, the famous parable of the sheep and the goats, has Jesus speaking about people taking a stranger into their homes, and feeding the hungry. In roughly half the homes now being built, that is impossible. Our developers have designed away the possibility for families to sit together around a meal table by eliminating dining space from housing plans, and now they are making it impossible to show any kind of hospitality. That's a great way to increase isolation, and to erode a basic human grace.
"And the King will say to them 'I was a stranger, and you created homes so small that people had no space to invite me in to'."
Update: in totally unrelated news, Barratts has reported a rise in profits.