With house prices now beyond reach for first-time buyers, and the population of the UK set to rise by a massive 17 per cent to 77 million by 2050, the need for sustainable housing solutions has never been more urgent.
While politicians and communities try to tackle the devastating impact that humans are having on the environment, the UK is also facing its biggest ever shortfall in affordable housing.
Here, we round up the top sustainable housing projects that are aiming to help solve this dual crisis.
The aim is to create a sector of charitable landlords to address the gap that has opened up for more vulnerable individuals with complex needs to be adequately housed
1. Energy-efficient ‘modular’ homes deal
Hundreds of ‘modular’ homes are to be built in the UK following a ground-breaking new deal to help solve the housing crisis.
Placemaking specialist Places for People is to buy 750 housing units from ilke Homes in the UK’s biggest ever modular housing deal. It will include 500 energy-efficient modules for sites it already owns and 250 for new affordable housing schemes.
Modular homes are permanent homes that are built indoors in a factory-like setting. The finished products are covered and transported to their new locations, where they are assembled by a builder. A modular home is not a mobile home; it is simply a home that is built off-site, as opposed to on-site.
Because modular homes are built indoors, they can be completed in just a few weeks, rather than months. They don’t see the typical on-site delays caused predominantly by the weather. Modular homes must conform to specific rules, guidelines and building codes that often surpass those of traditional on-site homes.
Modular homes are also much more energy-efficient, so monthly expenses for the homeowner are substantially less.
Last July, Places for People was one of the first organisations to be awarded a grant from Homes England. It is being used to deliver 2,603 homes as part of the agency’s strategic partnerships with eight housing associations.
2. Social investor sets £100 million target to house 10,000 vulnerable people
A social investment fund is aiming to raise £100 million over the next 10 years to help 30 third-sector organisations house 10,000 people.
The Social and Sustainable Housing LP fund, from Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC), has already raised £26 million to pay for homes for people with complex support needs.
The money is used to help charities buy homes to accommodate vulnerable people, including those owned by social housing landlords. Homelessness and domestic abuse charities will be able to access up to £5 million through the fund to purchase, renovate and adapt properties to house their clients.
Over 10 years, the charities can take rental income from the homes, allowing them to secure separate finance, while SASC absorbs the risk. At the end of that period, they can either pay SASC 85 per cent of what the homes are worth or hand back the keys to the properties.
Ben Rick, managing director of SASC, said: “The aim is to create a sector of charitable landlords to address the gap that has opened up for more vulnerable individuals with complex needs to be adequately housed.”
3. Community Land Trust sells half-price homes to local people
London’s first Community Land Trust is selling homes to local people for half the market price to enable them to get onto the housing ladder.
The brand new homes at St Clement’s in Mile End, East London, are being sold by community organisation London Community Land Trust (London CLT). It has also been supported by Ecology Building Society, which is the main provider of residential mortgages for the permanently affordable scheme.
The prices of the homes are linked to local incomes in Tower Hamlets, meaning a one-bedroom home can be bought for £130,000, two-bedroom homes for £182,000 and three-bedroom homes for £235,000. The private flats at St Clement’s available from Linden Homes start at £450,000 for a 1 bedroom apartment.
The campaign to create London’s first community land trust at St Clement’s was run by charity Citizens UK, which set up London CLT in 2007.
It has since garnered support from the respective Mayors of London Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson, and Sadiq Khan. The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, and Tower Hamlets Council have also supported the project.
The only ‘catch’ for CLT homeowners is that if they choose to move on, the same formula linked to incomes will be applied – meaning each year, prices will rise with average incomes across the borough, rather than with the open market.
This ensures the homes are permanently affordable for generations to come. It also encourages people to think of their investment as purchasing a home, not just an asset.