Specialist low carbon developer and modular manufacturer Starship is bringing forward a project in Wallasey, Wirral, which is set to be one of the largest modular carbon zero housing developments in the North West.

In partnership with North West housing association, Onward Homes, and supported by Homes England and the Liverpool City Region Brownfield Land Fund, which has allocated £195,000 to the project, Starship will deliver 13 carbon zero homes across a 64,000 sq ft site in Wallasey.

Constructed using low carbon Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), the Greenleas project will use eco-friendly construction methods by prioritising energy efficiency from the start of the design and development process.

Situated on undeveloped land at the bottom of Greenleas Close in Wallasey, the three-bedroom homes will be built with strong eco-credentials, holding an impressive EPC rating of A.

Onward Homes is one of the largest providers of social housing based in the North West, with more than 35,000 homes across the region. This development is Starship’s first project with Onward Homes and is expected to be completed in just over 40 weeks.

The MMC homes will be built in Starship’s Wirral Waters based factory, with each home taking a week to build and a day and a half to be erected on site.

Image credit: Starship

Dave Dargan, co-founder and chief executive of Starship, said: “At Starship, we are purpose driven to build better, and we have a strong commitment to low-carbon living, ensuring that everything we do is led by our commitment to the green agenda.

“Forming a partnership with Onward Homes is an exciting opportunity for us to continue delivering gold-standard, carbon zero homes and developing long-lasting communities with sustainability at their core. Greenleas will become a fantastic new addition to Wallasey, providing people with modern homes in the heart of one of Wirral’s most up and coming areas.”

Bronwen Rapley, chief executive of Onward Homes, added: “Onward is committed to becoming a leading environmentally-friendly landlord across the North West, providing warm and affordable homes in greener neighbourhoods for our customers to enjoy. Starship’s cutting-edge homes promise to make a real difference in this part of Wallasey, helping local people take their first steps on the property ladder while ‘treading lighter’ on the local environment through sustainable design and manufacturing.”

Cllr Graham Morgan, Liverpool City Region portfolio holder for housing and spatial planning, said building on brownfield sites was a central part of plans “to ensure there is a great choice of high-quality homes, right across the city region, as part of our ambitious plans to tackle the housing crisis.”

Around 21 modular specialists face a fight to retain places on the next-generation modular building framework for NHS Shared Business Services.

The rebooted framework has been expanded to cover new sectors, doubling the expected workload over the next four years to £3.6bn.

For the first time, it will include a hybrid construction/modular lot, where the general construction works element accounts for over £60m of the project value.

This is expected to attract JV bids from mainstream modular specialists of the kind successfully adopted by Kier and McAvoy on the Crown Commercial Services deal awarded last year.

The lotting structure for the NHS SBS, which includes local authorities, will also see the introduction of residential and blue light sectors, while a specialised kitchen lot is dropped.

The new arrangement will come into force when the existing deal expires in 2025. Since the existing framework was launched 8 firms have dropped out or collapsed from the original 29 companies selected.

Lambeth Council, working closely with a leading youth homelessness charity, aims to broaden the housing landscape for young working people struggling to find affordable accommodation in the borough.

The council’s proposal involves a 60-year term lease agreement with Centrepoint to develop 18 units of high-quality, affordable homes, catering specifically to employed young people aged 18 to 24.

For years, the pathway for young individuals moving on from supported housing services has been fraught with challenges, leaving many in limbo for extended periods. Recognising the need for a sustainable solution, Lambeth Council has embarked on this innovative project that promises not just to provide working young people with a home, but to support them as they continue their housing journey. The proposed single occupancy units will not be homeless accommodation.

This initiative comes at no capital cost to the council and is expected to generate significant revenue savings by reducing the costs associated with Temporary Accommodation. The off-site constructed homes will occupy Charter’s Close in South-East London.

The site, disused for over a decade, presents an ideal opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of young people striving for independence and stability. The proposed homes, to be built with the financial backing of Centrepoint, will offer young residents a unique chance to live affordably, paying rent at only one-third of their annual salary. This model not only ensures affordability but also encourages savings for their future.

The selection of Charter’s Close for this project underscores Lambeth Council’s commitment to using unused land resourcefully, transforming it into vibrant living spaces for those in need. The off-site construction method promises efficiency and minimal disruption, with the potential for residents to move in by Winter 2025.

This partnership with Centrepoint highlights a proactive approach to addressing youth homelessness and the broader housing crisis, offering a replicable model for other councils facing similar challenges. This comes at a time when Centrepoint’s own research demonstrates that many private landlords are unwilling to rent to young people. The scheme embodies Lambeth Council’s dedication to supporting its younger residents, ensuring they have access to safe, affordable housing within the borough, close to their work, and support networks. Centrepoint will submit a formal planning application and as part of this process, local residents and stakeholders will be invited to take part in a consultation.

LoCaL Homes, an award-winning advanced offsite housing manufacturing facility in Walsall, recently received a high-profile visit from a trio of Tory politicians.

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street CBE, Cllr Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council, local MP Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) and their staff were given a tour around the LoCaL Homes factory to learn more about modern methods of construction (MMC) and the products which LoCaL Homes manufacture.

Mike Doolan, Sales and Partnership Manager at LoCaL Homes, chaired a discussion with the visiting delegation around the future of closed panel timber frames and the opportunities and barriers in housebuilding using MMC.

He said: “It was fantastic to welcome Andy Street CBE, Cllr Adrian Andrew and Wendy Morton MP to our manufacturing site in Walsall.

“I was proud to show our visitors the high-quality timber frame panel we make in the heart of the Black Country and demonstrate how they have been used to build homes in the West Midlands and beyond.”

The visit comes ahead of the introduction of the Future Homes Standard – a set of rules which will ensure that new homes built from 2025 produce 75-80% less carbon emissions. LoCaL Homes is already manufacturing its Eco-200 timber frame panels for a number of developments housing associations and contractors across the country to achieve the standard ahead of time.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “Housebuilding has been one of the West Midlands’ best success stories in recent years, with record numbers of homes being built, the vast majority of them on brownfield land. This has kept us on course to achieve our target of building 215,000 new homes by 2031.

“But as we look to continue that success we must also think about how housebuilding can help tackle the climate emergency and support the region’s ambition to be net zero by 2041.

“We want to see greater use of Advanced Manufacturing in Construction so we can not only build homes faster but more sustainably.

“It was fascinating to see LoCaL Home’s  manufacturing process. It is a wonderful example of West Midlands innovation and exactly the sort of approach to construction that can not only build a cleaner, more sustainable economy but also create the hi-tech, green industries of the future, creating well-paid and secure jobs for local people.”

Wendy Morton MP said: “At the end of a busy week in my constituency, it was great to visit LoCaL  Homes  in Aldridge. They excel in manufacturing offsite solutions for various buildings such as bungalows, houses, apartments, care homes, and schools.“LoCaL Homes are shaping the future of housing solutions, and providing local skills employment opportunities.”

Residents of Lockleaze, Bristol, are facing the stark realities of modular construction gone awry. A development promising a faster, greener, and cheaper housing solution has turned into a prolonged nightmare, as homes built using modern prefabricated techniques face dismantling due to foundational flaws. This setback not only disrupts the lives of local residents but also casts a long shadow over the future of prefab housing in the UK. Despite governmental support, including hundreds of millions in funding, the industry struggles with demand, leading to significant financial losses and the closure of key players like Legal & General Modular Homes.

Challenging Conventions: The Prefab Predicament

The ambition to revolutionize the housing industry with prefabricated homes has encountered numerous challenges. From local opposition to restrictive planning systems, prefab ventures like the one at Bonnington Walk reveal the complexities of modernizing construction methods. The government’s strategy, criticized for its lack of coherence and direction, further complicates the transition to modular construction. With public and private investments yielding limited success, the dream of mass-producing affordable, quality homes remains elusive, raising questions about prefab’s viability as a solution to the housing crisis.

Future Foundations: Reimagining Residential Construction

Despite the setbacks, there is still hope for the prefab housing sector. Innovations and successes abroad suggest that with the right conditions, modular construction could play a significant role in addressing housing shortages. However, overcoming the industry’s current challenges will require a concerted effort from the government, manufacturers, and the public. As the UK grapples with the need for a more efficient, sustainable housing model, the story of Bonnington Walk serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the necessity for strategic planning, investment, and public support to realize the potential of prefab housing.

Work is due to begin on developing seven new one-bed small homes as Places for People expands its homelessness accommodation and support services for homeless people in Bristol.

Places for People have operated supported accommodation at Stonebridge Park for over 23 years providing support and accommodation to vulnerable homeless men.

The current accommodation offers 27 living spaces with on site support to help customers through their journey out of homelessness.

In September 2023, Places for People along with our delivery partner Agile Homes were successful in securing planning permission to build seven small self-contained modular homes on the existing site at Stonebridge Park, which will allow people to live independently with their own kitchen space, living area, bathroom and bedroom.

Work is now set to begin building the small homes, which will overlook the Clay Bottom Valley and Nature Reserve and they are due to be completed by October 2024. This comes after Places for People worked with the Hill Group and Bristol City Council to open 8 similar modular homes on Derby Street in January.

In addition to somewhere safe and stable to live, the facility also provides those living there with support around a vast number of complex issues which may have contributed to them becoming homeless such as mental health, domestic abuse, financial and drugs or alcohol. Support workers then help customers on their journey back into permanent accommodation.

Rachel Crownshaw, Group Managing Director for Communities at Places for People, said: “It’s really pleasing to see work begin on what is going to be such an important development. These modular homes will allow us to build on the great work we’re doing to support people in Bristol who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

“Really importantly, these new homes will provide people with somewhere to call home, where they can live independently, with their own front door and everything they need inside. In addition to this, we have support workers available who can work with those living here and give them support, advice and guidance as they get back on their feet and hopefully into more permanent accommodation.

“We have been supporting people who are homeless, or are at risk of being homeless, for many years. We work with young people, families, and single adults right across England and Scotland providing critical housing, support and services that aim to help those who are experiencing difficulties back into a more stable and secure situation. For example, we have provided over 200 supported accommodation properties across Bristol alone. Our country is in the teeth of a housing crisis, and we will continue to increase the support and services we provide to ensure we are doing as much as we can.”