London kitchens – a thing of the past?

Kitchens are shrinking dramatically in size and prominence in new London homes and conversions, according to the latest research from estate agents Marsh & Parsons.

Falling victim to the changing eating habits of modern-day Londoners, kitchens now account for a smaller proportion of the total living space in new build developments and conversions in the capital than ever before.  Today’s London residents are eating out more – up to an average of four times a week in 2013.  This fuelled a boom in the London dining scene last year, with a new restaurant opening for every day of the month at its peak.

Only half of a typical Londoner’s total weekly lunches and dinners are now prepared in kitchens at home.  And as the average size of UK new builds gets smaller, it is the kitchen which is bearing the main brunt of this fall in square footage.

  • Example 1: A two bedroom flat in a Barnes development comes with a kitchen of 6.5 sqm (or 70 sq ft). This is merely 7.9% of the gross internal area of the apartment and roughly half the size of an average car parking space.

  • Example 2: The kitchen is equal to only 7.3% of the property’s entire internal area in a two bedroom, two bathroom Albert Embankment apartment in Prime Central London.  At just 6 sqm (65 sq ft), this shows kitchen size has shrunk by a third since the 1960s, when the average British kitchen in a post-war new build was 8.8 sqm (95 sq ft).

As a result, over a third of residents in new build developments report they don’t have enough space for everyday kitchen appliances such as toasters or microwaves, or to invite guests over for dinner in their home.

Charles Holland, Lead Director of Residential Developments and Investments at Marsh & Parsons, comments: “The whole way we socialise as a city is changing, and marginalising the kitchen as the traditional hub of the home. Aware of the changing lifestyle of our capital’s young professionals, developers of the latest London apartment blocks are prioritising living space, bathrooms and nearly all else over kitchen size.

“Londoners today are increasingly following in the footsteps of New Yorkers, preferring to eat out and meet friends in a restaurant than host dinner parties. As such, kitchen size is no longer as important to many young professional buyers, and is often at the bottom of the pile in property wish lists”.

Marsh and Parsons have identified that among new build properties coming onto the market, separate kitchens are increasingly rare – with open plan kitchen-diners generally the norm.

  • Example 1: A two bedroom flat in a renovation of a former Victorian hospital in Clapham provides only one large open plan reception space to act as combined kitchen, dining and living area.

  • Example 2: A one bedroom apartment in a modern riverside development in Pimlico incorporates a modest galley style kitchen into a single reception room.

Peter Rollings, CEO of Marsh & Parsons, comments: “With less and less time spent preparing meals in the home, we are starting to see the kitchen completely disappear as a room in its own right, and instead being subsumed into the wider living and dining space.  Once a means of space-saving in tiny apartment blocks, combined kitchen-diners are now necessary for many house-hunters, and much more practical than a separate kitchen.  Looking to the future, it begs the question whether the London kitchen is about to do a disappearing act on us altogether, or whether it has already ceased to exist as a must-have space?” 



Paper Summary for Friday 10th May


  • The latest data from the National Institute for Economic & Social Research suggests that over the three months to April, output expanded by 0.8 per cent.  In the Daily Mail Alex Brummer addresses all those propagating the idea that Britain is heading for a triple-dip, “I have a message. It isn’t going to happen.  If that were to be annualised… the economy would be expanding at a remarkable 3% plus! Crisis, what crisis?”  The same paper’s editorial says “Despite all the doom-mongering by Labour and the BBC, there are signs that the economy is beginning to heal”.  The Times is also positive with Ian King saying the underlying picture is steadily improving.  But CityAM’s Allister Heath sounds a note of caution.  “While it would be pathetic not to rejoice that the overall economy is finally expanding…   it remains too soon to be sure…  The last thing we need now is complacency.”



  • LEX looks at housing market policy – where stimulus has come from “increasingly generous” FirstBuy, NewBuy and now Help to Buy programmes.  It says on a rolling 12-month basis, despite the first two schemes, private sector housing starts were still down 8 per cent year on year in the final quarter of 2012, with completions up 3 per cent.  “Perhaps the best that could be said was that the private sector showed some pick-up in the latter half of 2012, and looked slightly less dismal than the market overall.  Total annual housing starts… [were] woefully short of estimated needs.”  But it goes on to say housebuilders should cheer the HTB scheme “from their rooftops”.  It requires no financial commitment on the builder’s part, and is accessible by a broad swath of buyers.  And it might be working.  Yesterday Barratt said HTB had contributed 400 reservations over five weeks, a significant uptick from the earlier incentives.  Meanwhile, The Times property supplement runs a feature on Homes With Artists Studios, featuring a ground floor apartment in HollandPark on the market with Marsh & Parsons.  And The Times reports that soaring rents tightening the squeeze on tenants is being blamed for claims by landlords seeking to regain possession of their property surging to their highest level in nearly a decade.  Average monthly rents in England and Wales rose by more than 4 per cent over the year to £735, and 8.5 per cent of all rent is in arrears, according to LSL Property Services.


Personal Finance

  • The Guardian says the buy-to-let market “burst into life in the first quarter” as the CML reported gross mortgage lending to landlords had jumped to £4.2bn up from £3.7bn year on year.  The Daily Telegraph quotes David Whittaker of Mortgages for Business (as does The Guardian) who said the market was “going great guns” as landlords tried to take advantage of the returns on offer.  But The Guardian sounded a note of caution points out that lending to landlords has jumped despite efforts by the government to bolster loans to first-time buyers.   In their piece on the CML’s news, CityAM added that e.surv said total house purchase lending was up two per cent in April, with the number of approvals rising from 53,504 to 54,364.  The Guardian said e.surv’s data suggested lenders are also loosening the strings on low-deposit mortgages.


Recruitment & Employment

  • Editorials in the Financial Times and the Daily Express both look at immigration.  The Financial Times says the immigration Bill in the Queen Speech was “a victory for gimmickry over policy” and that the “chaos on the country’s borders and in the visa processing system fly in the face of official claims that Britain is open for business.”  While the editorial ends by urging the Tories to “return to their role as pragmatic friends of business, who know that immigration is something to be managed, not reviled,” the Daily Express suggests that “Britain should keep the floodgates firmly shut”.  Elsewhere in the paper Frederick Forsyth column is given over to his support for Susi Wolf, the Williams F1 test driver, sponsored by Randstad.

City is going ‘Greene’


City workers are seeing Greene, that is “Greene” men in the City this week, as the quirky London Estate agent Greene & Co. puts down “Greene” roots in the capital with the launch of its new city office. Donned in fetching green Zentai style suits, bowler hats and briefcases, the special Greene gents are frequenting the City’s favourite haunts today and tomorrow and can be spotted at various locations including Liverpool Street, Old Street, Spitalfields, Clerkenwell, St Paul’s and Spitalfields.

There is also have a chance to win a meal for two at the popular city eatery Coq d’argent via a QR code given out by the Greene Men or via the agent’s Facebook page at Greene & Co. is supporting 3Cs – Crohn’s & Colitis in Childhood and will make a £1 donation for every entry. The best street photos will be uploaded to the agency’s Facebook page ready for tagging by the city workers snapped.