Homes for Heroes: Eco-friendly modular homes for key workers

A new campaign, ‘Homes for Heroes’ has been launched to create 100,000 affordable homes manufactured in British factories

Homes for Heroes is a national alliance of housing associations, public figures, business leaders and leading high-tech manufacturers of modular homes.

It wants the government to help fund the initiative alongside private investors and housing associations, using public land and innovative new offsite manufacturing techniques which can ensure homes are finished quickly and surpass current energy performance requirements.

Factory-built homes
As well as building affordable housing for sale and rent, the main societal benefit would be major investment into new modular housing factories likely to come forward if there was a certainty of future demand.

Like any manufacturing facility, housing factories such as those in Yorkshire owned by companies such as Legal and General and ilke Homes are capital-intensive and cannot be turned off and on like traditional construction.

Creating 100,000 new, factory-built homes on public sector and housing association land over the next five years would deliver a wide range of economic benefits to all corners of the country – by allowing factories to be created all across the industrial heartlands.

The campaign said that the UK’s estimated 7.1m key workers deserve homes that are energy-efficient, beautifully designed and digitally connected, with access to private outside areas and high-quality green space, but that many struggled to afford a decent home in their community.

It has called on national and local government to back the campaign with grant funding and other support.

Key workers include:

NHS workers and carers; people working in education and childcare; those supporting the food chain such as farmers, supermarket workers and delivery drivers; transport workers; those in local and national government; and key public services including the fire service, police and armed forces.

Boosting the economy
The additional demand would leverage additional private sector investment in off-site construction, kick-starting a high-tech manufacturing revolution, creating jobs and boosting regional economies.
Government has sought to boost the delivery of homes using modern methods of construction (MMC) through its delivery agency Homes England’s, while MMC has formed a key plank of several regional mayors’ housing strategies.

A diverse housing delivery programme
Helen Evans, chief executive of Network Homes, said: “Essential workers on the frontline of this crisis are often among the lowest paid in society.

“Homes for Heroes is about giving these people a safe, secure and genuinely affordable home to live in. With the collaboration of government and the housing sector, both private and social, we can bring forward a once-in-a-generation number of new homes for our essential workers, including those not eligible for traditional key-worker housing.

“Homes will be well designed, with private outdoor space, inconvenient well-connected locations for healthcare facilities, schools and other employment hubs.”

Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy & UK government MMC champion for homebuilding said: “This initiative represents a unique opportunity to create a large scale and tenure diverse housing delivery programme, bringing central and regional government, local authorities, housing associations and private enterprise together in a unique way with a common goal.

“It can unleash the full potential of the emerging advanced manufacturing modular housing market, delivering quickly at scale, a new generation of homes that are of high design quality, fire safety assured, sustainable and affordable.”

Joseph Daniels, CEO and founder of Project Etopia Group, said: “Eco-friendly homes should not cost the Earth. This initiative could propel mass, nationwide investment in manufacturing, creating jobs in localised factories and ensuring society’s hardest workers get homes they can afford.

“The government has already taken many proactive steps to improve both housing and to help fight climate change. After Covid, they must continue to be the driving force in raising standards and helping push the boundaries of what can be achieved. This initiative is a perfect combination of both.”

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