'Module' homes arrive

A Buckinghamshire Council project to provide shelter for homeless families in urgent need of housing is one major step closer to completion.

Purpose-built modules are now being installed at the Desborough Road temporary accommodation site in High Wycombe.

The apartments were fully fitted out off site, complete with shower rooms and kitchens pre-installed. They will provide shelter for families who find themselves temporarily without a home, for example after losing their home through no fault of their own.

Cllr Isobel Darby, Cabinet Member for Housing & Homelessness, said: ‘I am delighted with the progress we have seen on site, which will help us achieve our ambitious plans to provide more accommodation for families who are homeless.

‘This project will increase the number of temporary homes in High Wycombe by 65 per cent, enabling us to meet the growing local need and provide a much better living environment for families who need our help.

‘The new accommodation will also bring people closer to local amenities, such as transport facilities, GP surgeries and schools as well as other support services.’

The 58 apartments were manufactured and fitted out at Premier Modular’s factory in East Yorkshire. The first modules have arrived on site (see picture, above) and all apartments should be installed by the middle of December.

Premier are working with construction firm Claritas Group to achieve value for the council on wjat is described as a ‘highly sustainable scheme’ which will be completed in a much shorter timescale than with traditional build.

The building has been designed to enhance the local area, with energy efficiency measures and roof-mounted solar panels to generate electricity.

The homes are constructed around a central courtyard which will provide a valuable social and relaxation space for residents. A housing management office, offices for the relocated British Red Cross, and laundry will be located on the ground floor, with refuse stores and cycle storage in the plaza.

Cllr John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Property & Assets, said: ‘It is exciting to see the first modules in place.

‘As a council, we are committed to exploring modern methods of construction and more innovative ways of delivering new housing. The use of an offsite solution for this scheme has enabled us to provide a high quality build with a high standard of workmanship and meeting the usual buildings standards while radically reducing time on site, meaning far less disruption locally during the build programme.”

Nathalie Meunier, Director of Premier Modular, said: ‘There is an urgent need across the UK for emergency accommodation for people who, often through no fault of their own, have become homeless.

‘These individuals and families need housing for a short period of time, while a more permanent place is found for them to live. Offsite construction is very well suited to building this type of accommodation.

‘As well as meeting the required standards for quality and sustainability, we can reduce the completion time to deliver new homes more quickly for people on emergency housing waiting lists.

‘With fabrication and fitting out of the apartments taking place off site, we can also reduce the number of construction workers on site – an important health and safety benefit in the current pandemic.’

Built on the site of the former Desborough Road car park, which has been relocated, the four- and five-storey scheme will be finished in colours including terracotta, slate grey and off-white to complement the surrounding local area.

The apartments will have lifts and staircases built on site. There will be two accessible apartments, each with a parking space. Work is expected to be completed by late summer next year with first residents moving in shortly afterwards.

Purpose-built modules are currently being installed at the Desborough Road temporary accommodation site.

Visiting the site to view the work in progress are, from left, Nathalie Meunier, Director of Premier Modular; Cllr Isobel Darby, Cabinet Member for Housing & Homelessness; Jon Wardle, Chief Executive of Claritas; and Cllr John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Property & Assets.