Work on putting together more than 20 ‘stackable’ houses for homeless families in Wokingham is nearly complete. The units at Grovelands Park, Winnersh, will provide accommodation for people as they wait for a more permanent arrangement, avoiding the need to use bed and breakfast places.

Installation at Grovelands Park started this spring, led by Wokingham Borough Council. Twenty of the 23 units are already in place and are being furnished ready for families to move in next year, when construction finishes.

The timber-clad homes are modular, meaning they’re built offsite and craned into place. The 50 sq m, double-stacked homes each have their own toilet and bathroom plus an open-plan lounge, dining room and kitchen.

One will remain single-storey and will be adapted for people with disabilities. The stackable houses should last for more than 50 years, says the council, which is replacing 12 old prefabricated mobile units which had “reached the end of their natural life and were no longer economical to repair.”

The new homes have modern heating and rooftop solar panels as well as double glazing to reduce energy costs. They also have misting systems, an advanced type of sprinkler which can target the exact location of a fire.

Some homes will also trial air source heat pumps, a system that draws warmth from outside into the home. Grovelands Park itself will be upgraded with improved parking and drains as well as two electric vehicle charging points.

Councillor Stephen Conway, the authority’s deputy leader and executive member for housing, said: “Given the rising cost of living and our announcements about the need for savings, we know many residents may be feeling anxious about the future. We hope this investment, which will more than pay off in the long run, shows we’re still here to protect them and keep families together at times of adversity.”

He added: “As well as being good for the planet and cutting unnecessary costs, providing high-quality temporary housing will help homeless local families to feel safe and well at an uncertain and distressing time. It will reduce our reliance on expensive bed and breakfasts, saving money at a time of unprecedented financial pressure and allowing people to remain closer to their schools, jobs, friends and relatives. People usually become homeless through circumstances outside their control and they shouldn’t become isolated from these important support networks as a result.”

Rollalong, a modular construction specialist which is one of three partners on the project, has just been named a finalist in the Off-Site Innovation of the Year category of this year’s London Construction Awards. The council’s other two partners are architect Edgington Spink + Hyne and procurement specialists LHC.

Source: Berkshire Live

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