First modular homes assembled for London homelessness scheme

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The initial modular homes have been assembled on a test site in Tower Hamlets to deliver accommodation for homeless Londoners

The prototype units belong to the Pan-London Accommodation Collaborative Enterprise (PLACE), a not-for-profit company established by London boroughs with a mission to provide high-quality temporary accommodation for homeless families.

Designed with council housing and homelessness experts according to PLACE’s specifications, the units are manufactured by ESS Modular.

PLACE accommodation meets all London design requirements and building control regulations and has the quality of permanent housing but the added advantage that the units can be relocated to a different site when required.

The modular homes will be placed on vacant ‘meanwhile’ sites – land earmarked for development in the long term, which would otherwise remain underused for at least the next seven years.

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Following the successful assembly of the prototypes on the Tower Hamlets test site, PLACE is working with participating boroughs to confirm sites and accommodate homeless households within the next year.

Tower Hamlets and several other boroughs are looking into suitable locations and PLACE aims to supply 200 homes across the capital by February 2022.

The initiative is supported by £11m of funding from the Mayor of London and represents the first collaboration between UK local authorities purchasing modular housing for this purpose.

‘Think outside the box’

Sir Steve Bullock, chair of PLACE, said: “This is an exciting step forward in our mission to boost the supply of high-quality temporary accommodation for homeless Londoners.

“Designed and manufactured to strict standards and with the needs of homeless families at the forefront of our minds, PLACE’s modular housing is attractive, comfortable, and spacious.

“This is accommodation that families will enjoy living in and we can’t wait to see boroughs start to use our units over the coming year.”

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, commented: “We’re really pleased to be involved in this exciting initiative.

“It could make a real difference to how we accommodate homeless Londoners at a time when our city is experiencing an ongoing housing crisis.

“I am glad we’ve been able to host these test units in Tower Hamlets. We’ve already identified a site for the first modular homes and in the coming weeks we hope to secure planning permission.

“It’s important that we think outside the box to tackle these complex challenges and this programme is doing just that.”

Paul Tierney, CEO of ESS Modular, added: “It is an honour for ESS Modular to work with PLACE on this important project which will provide high-quality, local accommodation for people needing a home.

“Using modern methods of construction, our precision-manufactured homes deliver the quality of a permanent home but offer a huge additional benefit as they can be relocated to another site needing urgent accommodation at a later date.”

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