The Housing Standards Review, launched in October 2012, has led to the publication of new and revised Building Regulation Approved Documents and a Nationally Described Space Standard last Friday 27th March 2015, which will come into effect on 1st October 2015.
During the consultation period it was proposed for there to be 3 categories of housing, which would be set out in an expanded Approved Document M. This has materialised, however the government has elected not to set minimum gross internal floor areas for these categories as previously suggested. Categories 2 and 3 are optional requirements which may be required by conditions attached to any planning permission on a scheme by scheme basis.
The 3 categories can be summarised as follows:
Category 1: Based on the 2013 edition of Approved Document MCategory 2: Based on Lifetime Homes requirements. Designed to allow future adaptation to suit the needs of residents
Category 3: Based on the Wheelchair Housing Standards. Designed to fully suit the needs of wheelchair users from completion.
As a guide, an earlier consultation document prepared by the working group provides approximate gross internal floor areas that should meet the requirements of each category: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/230251/2_-_Housing_Standards_Review_-_Technical_Standards_Document.pdf
Sat alongside the changes to the Approved Documents is the Nationally Described Space Standard which will come into force only if required through the relevant Local Authorities Local Plan. This document does set minimum gross internal floor areas, room areas, storage areas and a minimum floor to ceiling height of 2.3m which will need to be met where it applies.
In addition to the above changes, there have been revisions to Approved Documents E (resistance to the passage of sound), G (sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency), H (drainage and waste disposal), M (access - as above) and a new approved document Q introduced to address dwelling security.