Not so very long ago, a modest family house in London, with a garden, was an affordable choice for young professional couples moving out of flats and seeking family space.
Most were at least able to settle into a cheaper Victorian terrace alongside like-minded neighbours before trading up to a bigger property where they could see their children through their school years.
Spiralling property prices and a shortage of lower-value new-build houses sabotaged this route up the ladder. However, the plight of families trapped in cramped conditions has prompted Mayor Boris Johnson to call for bigger and more affordable family homes.
Housing associations and private developers are responding by building larger flats (some with four bedrooms) and fair-priced houses with family-friendly amenities such as allotments or children's play areas.
Family Mosaic housing association, as its name suggests, focuses on this sector. Creating an environment for families in a gritty, inner-city neighbourhood requires fresh architectural thinking.
Silk Gardens in Bethnal Green has a mix of flats, duplexes and townhouses, from 891sq ft to 1,508sq ft, with separate access to internal courtyards, secure playgrounds and sky gardens. Sixty-five per cent of the site is outdoor space and residents can rent rooftop allotments.
Family Mosaic is bringing the same design principles to Central Park, a big regeneration scheme on the Blackheath/Deptford border, where homes will be released for sale next spring. To register, visit centralparkliving.co.uk or call 020 7089 3917.
In addition to building new family homes, the association is refurbishing older houses and selling them on a shared-ownership basis. The first of these is at Swaton Road, Poplar, where a modernised three-bedroom Victorian terrace house with garden costs £131,250 (for a 35 per cent share) and even comes with curtains and blinds. As well as the mortgage costs, buyers will be asked to pay a monthly rent of £558.59. Call 020 7089 1315.
A former dairy in Gilbert Street, Enfield, has made way for a scheme of 62 homes, a mix of flats and houses, for outright sale and shared ownership, through Origin housing association. Called The Mews, houses cost from £234,950. Call 020 8370 3999.
In Hayes, one of the cheaper outer London areas, new three-bedroom townhouses cost from £299,000 at Barratt's Arena development, which has the bonus of being close to where a new Crossrail station will open in 2016. Call 0844 5566166.
Big flats for families
While many mainstream private developers refuse to build flats of more than three bedrooms (saying there is no demand), housing associations are stepping in to fill what they contend is a big gap in the market.
Woodberry Park, in Finsbury Park, N4, will eventually have 4,600 new homes — a mix of open-market and affordable properties. Berkeley Homes is building the first phase of 306 apartments in a new 27-storey tower (prices from £232,500, call 020 8985 9918), while the first shared-ownership flats have been launched by Genesis housing association.
Three-bedroom apartments cost from £270,000 (£75,000 for the minimum 25 per cent share) and four-bedroom flats from £340,000 (or £85,000). Crisply designed apartment blocks will be linked by a series of "linear parks" converging on a new town square. For more information, call 0800 954 0078.