Property&interiors O UR new homes are shrinking fast, according to a report by archi- tectural watchdog CABE. They are calling it Rabbit Hutch Britain -- it seems our new- build homes now have the tiniest rooms in Europe, unable to provide enough space to cook or even have visitors. But is new-build housing all bad? Despite the findings of the report, agents and develop- ers maintain its still possible to find decent, affordable and generously sized new-build homes. And when you consider that prices for this type of housing have fallen by as much as 40 per cent since the peak of the mar- ket in 2007, new-builds make an enticing option. Do your research and haggle well and its possible you will find your- self with more space for your money than you would get for older or period properties. There is one more major thing in a new-builds favour: more often than not the layout is good -- it flows and makes sense -- as opposed to the wonky period conversions sometimes found at the lower end of the market. In terms of spaciousness and specifications, I believe that the new flats on the market now are the best there have been in living memory, says Bob Weston of developers Weston Homes. Buyers are getting more value for their money. Our flats have gone up in size every year for the past 20 years. Now one-bed apartments go up to 700 sq ft, and two-bed apart- ments up to 2,500 sq ft. While Mr Weston would natu- rally argue that new-build is the way to go, it is true that older properties dont neces- sarily equal more space. To suggest simply that all new homes are too small is both misleading and misin- formed, says David Bexon of SmartNewHomes.com. While the average size of a new two- bed apartment in London, priced under 300,000, is about 645 sq ft, we found that the average size of a period two- bed is not much different. Looking at a cross-section of similarly priced older proper- ties we found there was less than a two per cent difference in the square footage. New homes are better-placed to keep up with the needs of the modern Londoner, com- pared with their older equiva- lents, he adds. New-build homes offer a great deal of f lexibility, with features designed to meet the changing needs of a couple or family now becoming commonplace, such as bonus rooms or downstairs bathrooms. The CABE report also ignores other benefits only available when buying new, from improved energy effi- ciency and lower fuel bills to low-level maintenance and a high-quality finish. There are some vast new- builds out there, of course. The large apartments at One Hyde Park, the beyond-luxurious Candy & Candy development in Knightsbridge, measure over 20,000 sq ft -- each could accommodate 24 average-sized flats. Thats one big rabbit hutch. But there are also spacious new homes out there for us mere mortals. 20 Wednesday, 26 August 2009 London Lite FORGET ALL THE SCARE STORIES: MODERN DOESNT HAVE TOMarket moves...SMEG has joined up with Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and will donate 10 per cent of the sale price of all its pink kitchen appliances bought by 31 December. GOOD news for the housing market? Figures from the British Bankers Association show that lending for homes has increased. Mortgages for new homes were up last month -- 76.7 per cent higher than for the same month last year. Remortgages were up a little on the month, but down on the 2008 figure by 42 per cent. But value of the total lending for residential properties was way up -- 79.1 per cent higher than in July last year. BAD news for students: your rent is going up. According to accommodationforstudents.com, average weekly rents this year rose by 1.6 per cent to 62.61. In London, weekly rents are now, on average, a hefty 104.13, just under 15 more than the next-priciest place to rent -- Cambridge. DIE-HARD fans of Aussie soap Neighbours can now rent homes Down Under that were once owned by its former stars, Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue. Donovans old four-bedroom property in Melbourne, which he owned until earlier this year, is being let for 750 a week. Also available for rent is Kylies former luxury holiday home, Beauciel, on an island off the coast of Melbourne. It is accessible only by boat or plane, and the new owner has decided to rent it out for just over 1,000 a week. ROBBIE WILLIAMS, left, has splashed out on a chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, according to his new neighbours. The singer, 31, isnt the only A-lister to enjoy the car-free resorts charms: Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Ferguson and Richard Branson have all holidayed there. Peoplearesurprisedbythesizeofmyflat Roomy: Jo Young in her Barratts flat LOUISE ATKIN, 23, lives in a three-bed flat in the Hornsey Road apartments which measures 988 sq ft. She bought it in June for 350,000. The main reason I bought this flat was because of its size, says Louise. Its got so much living space. The bedrooms are big and the living room has more than enough room for decent-sized sofas and dining, with plenty of space left over. This flat was much bigger than any of the period flats I viewed in the area. I also have a balcony that easily fits a table, chairs and at least three people -- possibly a sun lounger, too. Friends are really surprised when they come to visit and see how big it is. I think you can definitely find new-build flats that areSpace to spare: Louise Atkin in the roomy sitting area of her home roomy if you look hard enough. In my experience youre more likely to get more space with new than old. Generous: the Hornsey Road flats total 804 sq ft BY JESSIE HEWITSON total 989 sq ft Thenew-builds Room for manoeuvre: Jo Youngs spacious two-bed Kennington flat cost 295,000 in April flatmyofsizethebysurprisedarePeople atsGenerous: the Hornsey Road fl cost 295,000 in Aprilcost 295,000 in April index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html