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National space standards

Rachel B

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We are applying to build a semi detached house on the side of an existing detached house. Because the houses are to be linked together we're limited to ceiling heights by the heights of the existing rooms as the new house will be a mirror of the existing one. We'd like to build loft rooms in the new house roof when we build it but the existing house only has a roof space height of 2260mm which would give a finished ceiling height of only about 2000mm. The house is a victorian style detached with a front and back gable (so the roof slopes from side to side) and the plan was to do dormers on the roof sides just from the middle to the rear to give a large dormer room, then have another room in the front section that would have a roof that slopes on both sides so only the centre portion would have a high enough ceiling to be usable. 


I've become aware of national space standards which designate that minimum floor to ceiling height needs to be 2.3m over 75% of the house. But I also find references here and there that this only applies 'if your council enforce it'. I'm struggling to find out if this is true or whether my council (Reigate and Banstead) enforce it, or whether there are any circumstances where it is more subject to interpretation? There doesn't appear to be any reference to it on their planning website. I also don't know whether loft rooms when built as part of a new build also count in this calculation (even though they don't for conversions). 


My question is, if the space standards are enforceable and we convert the loft including the double sloped roof section, is there an area of roof height under which rooms are not counted as habitable and are therefore excluded from calculations? I'm also a landlord, and I know on some of my properties in London where I have to conform to minimum space standards,  I am not able to count any floor space with a ceiling height under 1500mm as usable space for instance. So this could work in my favour as if this space doesn't count as usable rooms for planning purposes, but we can still add velux windows and we can list it as storage and then the remaining dormer room would only be about 20% of the house and therefore would bring the calculations into the right percentages. We're conscious that a new build very likely will have its PD rights removed so we wish to maximise the space at time of the initial planning application.

Thank you

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Essentially space standards apply to all applicable permitted development rights, as it is built into the GPDO.

However it is not in every local plan.

Even if it is in a local plan it is possible for the local authority to approve something that doesn't fully comply. 

The standard requires that:

  • the dwelling provides at least the gross internal floor area and built-in storage area set out in the table below;
  • a dwelling with two or more bedspaces has at least one double (or twin) bedroom;
  • in order to provide one bedspace, a single bedroom has a floor area of at least 7.5m² and is at least 2.15m wide;
  • in order to provide two bedspaces, a double (or twin bedroom) has a floor area of at least 11.5m²;
  • one double (or twin bedroom) is at least 2.75m wide and every other double (or twin) bedroom is at least 2.55m wide;
  • any area with a headroom of less than 1.5m is not counted within the Gross Internal Area unless used solely for storage (if the area under the stairs is to be used for storage, assume a general floor area of 1m² within the Gross Internal Area);
  • any other area that is used solely for storage and has a headroom of 900 – 1500mm (such as under eaves) is counted at 50% of its floor area, and any area lower than 900mm is not counted at all;
  • a built-in wardrobe counts towards the Gross Internal Area and bedroom floor area requirements, but should not reduce the effective width of the room below the minimum widths set out above. The built-in area in excess of 0.72m² in a double bedroom and 0.36m² in a single bedroom counts towards the built-in storage requirement;
  • the minimum floor to ceiling height is 2.3m for at least 75% of the Gross Internal Area.


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