Contractor Skanska and retailer Ikea have acquired their first three UK sites, where they plan to develop their BoKlok low cost, offsite-manufactured homes. The sites are in Bristol and in Worthing and Peacehaven, in Sussex, and could accommodate around 400 homes, subject to planning permission. Most of the homes will be for market sale, with the remainder being sold to local authorities and housing associations for social rent. Worthing is the first site to come forward, with a planning application for 150 homes submitted. Its deal would see the council retaining control of 30 per cent of the units. Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s executive member for regeneration, said, “The fact that these homes can be built quickly, to a high quality and meet top environmental standards makes this an extremely attractive proposition.”
West Midlands Combined Authority has introduced its own definition of affordable housing, which is based on local incomes rather than local house prices. West Midlands mayor Andy Street said, “The current affordability definition is 80 per cent of market value, which for many people in the West Midlands still leaves homes frustratingly out of reach”. The new definition sets affordability at around 35 per cent or less of the average gross earnings of the lowest quarter of wage earners in the local area. The definition will be applied alongside a more flexible approach to the types of housing products classed as affordable in new developments.
An emerging garden village in County Durham is set tap into mine water for its district heating. The Seaham Garden Village will use geothermal heat from the nearby Dawdon mine water treatment scheme, which treats water abstracted from a network of flooded abandoned coalmines. The district heating scheme is the result of a collaboration between government body the Coal Authority, contractor Tolent Construction and Durham County Council. Seaham Garden Village, which is being brought forward by the council, Tolent and housing association Home Group, will have 1500 homes, a school and other amenities.
The National Infrastructure Commission’s design champions have launched the UK’s first design principles for national infrastructure, and are calling for them to be adopted in the government’s infrastructure strategy. The principles aim to embed considerations around climate, people, places and value into the planning and delivery of nationally significant infrastructure projects. The commission design group’s chair, and founding partner of dRMM Architects, Sadie Morgan said, “By embedding excellent design into planning and delivery from day one and encouraging everyone in the sector to embrace it as part of their role, we can ensure we leave a proud inheritance that inspires people and helps the UK achieve our climate targets.”
Urban orchards, fast track planning for attractive housing and minimum standards for permitted development rights (PDR) are among the recommendations of a new report from a government backed commission. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government set up the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission - led by the philosopher, the late Sir Roger Scruton, and Nicholas Boys Smith, director of campaign group Create Streets - to look at residential design and style. The final report, Living with beauty, also advocates using digital technology to help local people shape their own areas. Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said, “ I am interested in the proposal of a ‘fast track for beauty’. Where individuals and developers have put in the time to create proposals for well-designed buildings, which use high quality materials and take account of their local setting, it can’t be right their planning applications are held up.”
There are plans to create a demonstration community of 66 sustainable and flexible homes for all generations at Newcastle's Helix innovation district. The Future Homes proposal comprises three apartment buildings, of up to eight storeys, with homes intended for social rent and rent to buy. The project is being brought forward by the Future Homes Alliance, a community interest company formed by Newcastle University, Ryder Architecture, consultant Zero Carbon Futures, community group the Elders Council, the Sustainable Communities Initiative and the Innovation Super Network. The alliance is working with Newcastle City Council and its development agent, housing association Karbon Homes. It is intended that five homes in the development would be used by industrial partners as test beds for innovative products. The project will be part of the residential element of the Helix scheme, which is expected to have almost 400 homes in all.
Hartlepool Council is backing the development of a swimming and recreational attraction as part of an investment in leisure facilities in the town. The council plans to demolish its Mill House Leisure Centre and develop a new centre on a site in its Waterfront marina. The planned facility will feature three swimming pools, a health suite, fitness studios, gym, family playspace, café and function rooms. The development will sit alongside other improvements to the wider Waterfront site, including the creation of an events space. The council is planning to upgrade other leisure facilities in the town. “Together, all of the schemes represent one of the biggest investments in the town in recent times and their impact on the lives of local people will be profound,” said councillor Shane Moore, leader of the council and chair of the finance and policy committee. “They will provide us with modern, high quality leisure venues and facilities that will bring with them a range of health, social, environmental and economic benefits.”