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As the government discuss the new housing strategy, Premier's Head of Housing Graeme O'Doherty looks at how modular construction can contribute to solving the housing crisis

Can Infill Development Using Modular Housing Contribute to Solving the London Housing Crisis?

This question can only be fully answered with the aid of data which is not readily available on the number of small plots which could be either built on with no enabling works or minor demolition works of garages, for example.  However, if a little common sense and anecdotal evidence is used, there is reason to suggest that the opportunities should be further explored.

There has always been a lot of media attention focused on large scale urban redevelopment in our Capital City but very little mention of the seemingly large opportunity to build thousands of new homes on small infill sites.  Some smaller developers have become adept at hunting out these relatively small sites but it is the belief of this author that Local Authorities should do more to identify land already owned and under-used to develop new social housing.

Is it more expensive to build small numbers of homes?

Of course it is……….

However, this is where offsite, volumetric housing can help significantly.  I can already hear the exclamation that “offsite manufacturers continually harp on about their costs being lower but when comparisons are made they turn out to be more expensive”.  This may be true for the way housing has traditionally been procured but all the offsite housing manufacturers can prove a cost saving given the opportunity.  I also hear the shouts of “volume is required to take advantage of offsite cost savings”.  How can a small number of houses on infill sites provide the volume required to offer cost benefits?  The answer is simple: Batch enough sites together to make a volume worthy of being produced in a factory (different for every manufacturer but at Premier Modular we simply need upwards of 12 to make this viable).

Will all the houses look the same?

No, many different house types can be chosen dependent on the housing need within the specific area.  Each house type can be supplied with a choice of roof and the choice of external cladding is exactly the same as with site built options.  These style choices provide equal opportunity to blend or contrast with the surrounding street scene.  This should help to minimise planning objections.  High quality designs are readily available which meet or exceed all housing standards including the London Housing Design Guide, Lifetime Homes and Decent Homes standards.  All offsite housing from Premier Modular is supplied with a 10 year insurance backed guarantee and 60 year design life on all structural components.

What’s the catch?

There is no catch and all it takes is for one Local Authority to carry out due diligence on an offsite housing supplier to demonstrate the viability of this proposal.

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