Homes in Britain are becoming the smallest in Europe with new one-bed flats now typically no bigger than a Tube carriage.

Faced with rising land costs, developers are cramming a lounge, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom into as little as 495 square feet.

The result is ‘cramped, dark and artificially lit’ environments that put health and wellbeing at risk, the Royal Institute of Architects said.

The average new UK home has shrunk to 818 square feet, 10 per cent smaller than 30 years ago, making our properties the tiniest in Western Europe.

Riba’s Case for Space report says homebuyers are increasingly concerned that new homes are not big enough for their needs.

‘Research suggests consumers are right to be worried,’ the report says.

‘A lack of space has been shown to impact on the basic lifestyle needs that many people take for granted, such as having enough space to store possessions or even to entertain friends.

‘In more extreme cases, lack of adequate space for a household has also been shown to have significant impacts on health, educational attainment and family relationships.’

Research shows a lack of natural light – often due to small windows – can lead to a diminished immune system, diabetes and premature ageing.

Natural light can decrease the risk of insomnia, depression and obesity, while over-exposure to the artificial variety can disrupt sleeping patterns.

The abolition of the minimum space standards through the 1980 Local Government, Planning and Land Act is to blame, Riba says.

Properties in Ireland are 15 per cent bigger, in the Netherlands they are 53 per cent bigger and those in Denmark – at 1,475 square feet – are a staggering 80 per cent more expansive.

For those living in a home between two and ten years old a lack of space is the main reason for wanting to move out.

Riba has launched a campaign called HomeWise, headed by Kevin McCloud of Channel 4’s Grand Designs, to call for minimum size and light standards for all homes.

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