Ready-made homes could solve Cov’s hous­ing cri­sis

Warwickshire Telegraph - - NEWS - By KATY HALLAM

READY-MADE homes which cost a frac­tion of tra­di­tional builds and can be on site within eight weeks are com­ing to Coven­try in a bid to tackle the city’s hous­ing cri­sis.

The first mo­du­lar homes - pre­fab­ri­cated build­ings or houses that con­sist of re­peated sec­tions called mod­ules have been agreed in a joint pro­ject be­tween Coven­try City Coun­cil and White­fri­ars Hous­ing.

The city needs to build 38,000 homes over the next 15 years to keep up with de­mand.

And Cllr Ed Ruane, cab­i­net mem­ber for hous­ing and com­mu­ni­ties, be­lieves they could help solve the city’s hous­ing cri­sis.

At the mo­ment the coun­cil is spend­ing as much as £100 a night plac­ing peo­ple into tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion such as ho­tels and bed and break­fasts.

It means the authority has spent a huge £4.1m plac­ing home­less peo­ple into tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion this year alone - nearly a 620 per cent in­crease on the £570,000 ex­pen­di­ture in 2013/14.

Cllr Ruane said: “It’s im­per­a­tive re­ally that we get th­ese houses on board as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“As many peo­ple in Coven­try know, we’ve got 350 fam­i­lies liv­ing in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion, like bed and break­fasts, which just clearly isn’t suit­able.

“If we can bring this type of hous­ing on board as quickly as pos­si­ble that will ad­dress that prob­lem and we’re hop­ing to do that in the next com­ing months.”

Said to be the fu­ture of af­ford­able hous­ing, mo­du­lar homes can be built to any size within a fac­tory.

They are far cheaper to build, and a two-bed­room house takes just eight weeks to make and move on to site.

The first site where mo­du­lar homes will be in­tro­duced in Coven­try is Lit­tlethorpe in Wil­len­hall.

The build is the re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween White­fri­ars Hous­ing - the largest provider of so­cial hous­ing in Coven­try and the coun­cil.

Few de­tails are yet avail­able on the num­ber and types of homes avail­able on the de­vel­op­ment.

But Cllr Ruane said it could be just the start.

He said: “We’re hop­ing if this pi­lot scheme is suc­cess­ful that there will be fur­ther sites in the fu­ture where mo­du­lar homes can be built.

“White­fri­ars have iden­ti­fied an­other three sites in the city where we could have po­ten­tially have mo­du­lar homes.”

Sev­eral coun­cil­lors re­cently went to visit To­tally Mo­du­lar - a Mid­lands-based com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in the con­struc­tion of mo­du­lar hous­ing - to see how the houses were be­ing built.

They were shown around a ‘two-pod sys­tem’ - a two bed­room house which can house four peo­ple in 74 square me­tres and be con­structed and de­liv­ered to site within eight weeks.

The two-pod sys­tem fea­tures two large dou­ble bed­rooms, a lounge with French-doors open­ing into the rear gar­den, a break­fast bar kitchen, a down­stairs toi­let and a fam­ily bath­room.

The com­pany makes mo­du­lar homes of all sizes - in­clud­ing ‘Mi­croLiv­ing’ homes which can be used to pro­vide tem­po­rary hous­ing for the home­less, emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion in the event of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters such as flood­ing, or on­site liv­ing for large con­struc­tion of civil en­gi­neer­ing projects.

Cllr Ruane said he was im­pressed with the work the com­pany is do­ing.

He said: “Peo­ple of­ten have pre­con­ceived per­cep­tions about mo­du­lar homes, but they are noth­ing like what you would think, they’re re­ally smart.”

He also added that mo­du­lar homes could work par­tic­u­larly well on small brown­field sites land that has been pre­vi­ously de­vel­oped and is not cur­rently in use such as dis­used garages within the city.

Other ben­e­fits in­clude there be­ing less dis­rup­tion to ex­ist­ing res­i­dents.

“You can lit­er­ally just drop the houses in,” he added.

“It means there’s far less im­pact on ex­ist­ing res­i­dents in terms of con­struc­tion prob­lems and the noise.”

Cllr Bavin­der Kaur, deputy cab­i­net mem­ber for hous­ing and com­mu­ni­ties, added: “I think it’s been a real eye-opener.

“All the myths and the pre­con­cep­tions that I had about mo­du­lar hous­ing, to see how it’s ac­tu­ally be­ing done and the in­di­vid­u­al­i­sa­tion that can be done and how we can ac­com­mo­date the cit­i­zens and fam­i­lies of our city. It’s re­ally pos­i­tive.”

Cllr John Mut­ton, cab­i­net mem­ber for strate­gic fi­nances and re­sources at Coven­try City Coun­cil, said af­ter the visit: “I think to­day’s visit has been ex­tremely worth­while. Ob­vi­ously I’d heard of mo­du­lar hous­ing but didn’t re­ally know what the cost was nor how quickly they could be put up.”

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