The prototype units belong to PLACE, the Pan-London Accommodation Collaborative Enterprise, a not-for-profit company established by London boroughs to help accommodate homeless families.
Designed according to PLACE’s specifications, the units are manufactured by ESS Modular. The modular homes will be placed on temporarily vacant sites – land earmarked for development in the long term that would otherwise remain underused for at least seven years.
Following the assembly of the prototypes on the Tower Hamlets test site, PLACE is working with participating boroughs to determine more sites. PLACE aims to supply 200 (include 20 that will be wheelchair accessible) of these units across the capital by February 2022. All will be two or three-bedroom properties with all bedrooms classed as doubles. Each unit will have a private front door and at least its own balcony, if not a patch of garden.
The initiative is supported by £11m of funding from the Mayor of London and represents the first collaboration between UK local authorities purchasing modular housing for this purpose.
Tom Copley, London’s deputy mayor for housing & residential development, said: “PLACE shows what can be done when City Hall, councils and innovative construction and tech industries work together to tackle one of our city’s most pressing issues. Homeless people and those living in temporary accommodation deserve high-quality homes. This project will not only help improve the housing available for homeless families and reduce the cost of providing temporary accommodation for local authorities, but will hopefully drive innovation in house building, showing the potential of precision-manufactured housing.”
ESS Modular chief executive Paul Tierney said: “Using modern methods of construction, our precision-manufactured homes deliver the quality of a permanent home but offer a huge additional benefit as they can be relocated to another site needing urgent accommodation at a later date.”