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HN: Floor space per person on rise in Czech flats

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Prague, March 8 (CTK) – The floor space per person in Czech flats has markedly increased in the past decade, but still the country lags behind Western Europe, daily Hospodářské noviny (HN) reported yesterday.
At present, the average floor space per inhabitant is about 33 square metres, which is almost four metres more than ten years ago, HN writes.
The capital of Prague lags slightly behind the national average, mainly due to its lower proportion of the number of detached houses to the number of flats, but the average space per inhabitant has also increased there, the daily writes.
However, though the average space in Prague stands at 32 square metres and its further rise is expected, still Prague lags behind West European cities, such as Vienna, whose urban style is the closest to Prague and where the average floor space per inhabitant is 46 square metres, the paper writes.
Experts say the Czech Republic lags behind Europe due to its housing estates comprised of large prefab blocks of small flats, as often constructed in the communist era before 1989.
The floor space decreased in the communist era compared with the 1920s-1930s, Marie Bacova, from the Czech Chamber of Engineers and Technicians in Construction (CKAIT) told the paper.
In addition, the flats in prefab houses were often poorly designed. As a result, their inhabitants now often pull down some walls or unite two flats to make their housing more comfortable, Bacova said.
It is neither couples nor families, but singles who raise the average floor space in the Czech Republic, the paper continues.
True, families inhabit larger flats, but their floor space per person is 24 square metres on average.
However, the national average is raised by the singles who buy new flat for themselves alone. In Prague, these people are most often men in their late thirties, who often buy a new flat as an investment or because they are getting divorced. They show interest mainly in small, one- to two-room flats, HN writes.
The number of one-member households has been on the rise and the market is starting to be short of small flats, Bacova said.
The rise in the floor space per inhabitant may be curbed in Prague by the new zoning plan, now in preparation, which is to restrict construction on the city outskirts as from 2020. This would reduce the number of new detached houses that largely contribute to the rising floor space, the paper concludes.

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