The Parker-Morris standards for Council houses are almost always described as minimum space standards. They are not. They are actually maximum space standards. When the committee was investigating during the 1950s, at the height of what was then called 'slum clearance' in which gorgeous Georgian terraces and the remains of 16th and 17th century urban villages were destroyed along with any houses that had inconveniently survived the Blitz, the government faced a demand problem. If they built houses that were wind and weathertight, with indoor privies, heating and all modern conveniences, good strong roofs and damp courses, better in fact than most privately rented housing stock, how would they curb demand? The answer was to make them small - with every square inch of space calculated; room for the bin, and the pram, for a small 2-person sofa, a table for the wireless, a dining table for two. Making them as small as possible - smaller than the private alternatives - was intended to restrict demand, and in the 1950s, to an extent, it worked. It also allowed economy in construction, housing 25% more people than new private construction for the same cost.
In 2017, private housebuilding builds to almost exactly the same space standards as the 1961 Parker Morris quota. But with no room for the landrover baby buggy, the fridge freezer, the dish washer or storage for clothes and shoes twenty times the size of the lean post-war wardrobe. The owner of a modern estate home may also rent a self-store space in lieu of a garage and loftspace, or clutter their parents' homes with their overspill of stuff.
Off-site fabrication, increased quality control that means thinner, leaner structural sections, eliminating wet-trades, de-skilling construction and global procurement* have all combined to deliver new houses at minimum cost and minimum size with barely acceptable economic life; you can expect the roofs to fail economically in twenty years, services to fail economically in fifteen years. However, for those houses built with a slot-in pre-plumbed bathroom wall that just needs connecting to water and bolting in, owners may well need to remove sections of the external brick cladding to replace the plumbing. Yes, we're now building instant slums, with poor soundproofing, shoddy materials and, still, hammer-induced fitting of precise components.
It's no longer possible to build council houses better than private homes for lesser cost; there is also no longer a 'cheaper' option as private builders have already attained the nadir. There's just new housing, all the same. The only variable is land with planning consent. Unless the government cracks this one, new council housing just won't work any more.
*A consignment of cement-woodwool boards from Thailand on one of my jobs was delayed when HMRC found a few kilos of heroin hidden in the load.