A developer in Croydon was given permission to build a flat smaller than a London taxi after a shocking change in planning rules.
Plans for the two cramped apartments in Purley, south London, showed spaces of just 8.3 sq m and 9 sq m passed by Croydon council last year.
The move has been described by experts as the smallest allowed under ‘permitted development’ rules and is just two thirds the size of most parking spaces.
It comes after landlords were found to be exploiting ‘permitted development’ rights to earn a fortune from turning offices into numerous small flats.
Plans for the two cramped apartments in Purley, south London, showed spaces of just 8.3 sq m and 9 sq m passed by Croydon council last year
A studio flat in London has to be 37 sq m but is not factored in for co-living arrangements such as the ones proposed in Purley.
The developers do not face the usual scrutiny under ‘permitted development’ rights, there are no restrictions on the size of the flats and there are few ways of turning down applications, according to the Times.
Construction on the Purley flats has not yet started, but they are among other plans for the building which include a two-bed ground floor apartment which itself only measures 22 sq m.
Despite this being a third of the size of a flat under normal planning permission, the building’s owner Andrew Weinstein has other plans for a 28 sq m three-bedroom space and a 26 sq m two-bed on the first floor.
Head of housing research at architects Levitt Bernstein, Julia Park, said the flats were ‘ridiculously small’, and that there was ‘more light in the corridor than in the flats’.
It also emerged that developers the Cowell Group filed plans for a warehouse to be made into a 107-flat block in Barnet, north London, but with 56 not having an outwards-facing window.
The studios would fit a bed, table, kitchen and small bathroom into a 13 sq m area, and 56 of the homes would look inside the building to an atrium, with seven trees below.
Even the apartments that face outwards have just one window, with some flats expected to share a corridor with a row of offices, under the proposals by Adrian Levy and Nicholas Cowell, as well as rival developer Dandi Living.
The move at 5 Russell Hill Parade, Purley, has been described by experts as the smallest allowed under ‘permitted development’ rules and is just two thirds the size of most parking spaces
The move comes despite Mr Cowell previously saying: ‘If you convert a horrible office building to flats then you end up with flats in a horrible office building.’
Ms Park added: ‘Of the dozens of examples I’ve come across, these are probably the worst, particularly the Barnet scheme.’
But Ali Reza Ravenshad from Dandi Living claimed his company was not going to build the squat flats and was ‘playing the planning game’.
More windows would be added to the outside of the building after getting normal planning permission through a second application, he said.
These were said to be rooms of around 24 sq m, aimed at low income renters who would still get a window.
Complaints flooded in against the flats, with locals saying the cramped spaces could lead to mental health problems for occupants.
The Barnet Society, which is made up of residents, said it was ‘a cynical exploitation of planning loopholes — compounded by disregard for basic human needs’.
The plans have not been approved yet, but Barnett council can only reject them if they find environmental problems such as flooding, transport or noise.
Mr Weinstein did not reply to requests for comment from the Times and could not be reached by MailOnline.
The Cowell Group and Dandi Living said they ‘take great pride in their track record for delivering high end, aesthetic and affordable housing’.
‘[The] development is at an early stage of a complex planning process, and our intention is to build a co-living scheme of the highest quality.’
The said those looking for communal living in London will be presented with rooms that are at least 24 sq m.
Croydon council said environmental problems can affect planning applications, but the size of the rooms cannot be brought into question.