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Factory-built homes – are they the answer to London’s housing crisis?

London needs 50,000 new homes a year to meet its growing needs. [3] To reach this target, an innovative approach is vital. In the seventies, prefabricated housing contributed significantly to supply. The new model of factory manufactured homes is light years away from this.
 

Builders and manufacturers are producing offsite manufactured homes (OSM), characterised by high quality, digital design, precision engineering and eco-efficient performance.

  • The wide variety of homes that OSM now produces can meet the needs of families with children, older people and single households. The business model is particularly suitable for rental accommodation at all income levels.
  • Their shallow foundations, lightweight construction and acoustic performance lend themselves to constrained sites.
  • OSM buildings can be built and occupied in half the time of conventional buildings, requiring fewer vehicles to transport materials to site.

On behalf of the London Assembly Planning Committee, Nicky Gavron AM publishes the report ‘Designed, sealed, delivered: The contribution of offsite manufactured homes to solving London’s housing crisis’ on 31 Aug 2017. The report’s recommendations to the Mayor include:

  • Provide clear and strong leadership in raising the awareness of OSM’s potential.
  • Work towards defining and adopting a Manufactured Housing Design Code.
  • Look at the potential of using TfL-owned land to stimulate the OSM sector.
  • Set up a dedicated OSM-specific procurement framework for London. 

Nicky Gavron AM, report author, said:

“Meeting London’s housebuilding target is a huge task and traditional construction techniques will only take us so far. Offsite Manufactured Housing is an innovative, forward-looking and exciting way to close the gap. These buildings are high quality and outstanding in terms of performance. Their construction is more environmentally-friendly than traditional construction methods and they are a far cry from their prefabricated predecessors. Few will disagree that using vacant public land to build homes quickly and with less pollution and disruption could be great news for London, tailored to demands at every price point.

The lack of a single design standard or mass market demand has held back the sector’s growth. This is a once in a generation opportunity to work collaboratively with investors, developers and policy makers at a time where experts, central and local government are all calling for the same thing to happen. The Mayor is ideally placed to respond to the report’s recommendations and call to action.”

Mark Farmer, Chief Executive of Cast Consultancy and author of the Farmer Review, said:

“This timely report sends an unequivocal message to the Mayor of London that now is the time to show strong political leadership to establish a mainstream precision manufactured housing market in the capital. It could underpin ambitions not just for housing, but wider economic growth.”