Birmingham gives go-ahead for first modular home

Published: Thursday, 17th January 2019

Today, 17 January 2019, Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT), Birmingham City Council’s house-building arm, received planning permission to install its first modular home.

To be located in Heaton Street in Hockley, the two-bedroom house will include both a parking space and a back garden and is set to be let as social housing.

Traditionally, modular housing has been more commonly seen in Northern Europe and China rather than in the UK, where it has been severely under-utilised. Yet, it provides an opportunity for housebuilding at an increased scale as well as unlocking land that is difficult to access and which, could not be used by traditional bricks and mortar houses.

The cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council, Councillor Sharon Thompson said, “I am thrilled that BMHT is able to move forward in this way. We have a target to deliver 51,000 more homes by 2031. With high-profile developments like HS2 and Paradise in progress that are set to transform the city and with Birmingham becoming an increasingly attractive place to both businesses and families alike, the need for high quality, affordable housing will only increase.

“Embracing innovation in house-building techniques like this means that we can reduce the average time it takes to build a single-family house from around six to seven months to just over two weeks in the factory. This, most importantly, has a direct impact for the 12,000 people currently on the housing waiting list who are in need of social housing.”

For those on the Council’s housing wait list, four and five-bed properties are often in the highest demand but generally have the lowest availability. Since BMHT’s creation in 2009, addressing this gap in the social housing market has been its focus. However, as demographics slowly change, there are now some 316 cases which require a one-bed property and over 1,000 households that require a two-bedroom property.

Clive Skidmore, assistant director for housing development at Birmingham City Council said, “In Birmingham we have a tradition of embracing techniques like off-site manufacturing. This dates back to the post-war era and examples can still be seen of this style across the city in locations like the widely-celebrated Wake Green Road pre-fabs.

“Today, the highest priority for BMHT is to ensure that high-quality social housing remains readily available to meet the needs of Birmingham’s citizens. That’s exactly why we’ve developed our own modular house type, rather than depending on existing external companies. It means that we can specify the design and materials used, ensure that they live up to our aspirations and guarantee that the Birmingham modular home is not seen as a substitute for a traditionally built one.”

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