United Living plans biggest-ever modular council housing scheme

18 February 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

United Living and Leeds City Council have lodged a planning application to create the UK’s biggest-ever fully modular council housing and apartment scheme.

If approved, the project at Leeds Meynell (in Holbeck) will see 28 homes built in less than nine months, compared to an average traditional construction time for a development of this size of almost 24 months.

Main contractor United Living is working in partnership with Premier Modular and William Saunders Architects to deliver the project.  

Manufacture of the new homes is planned to begin in late spring 2019 at an off-site facility in Brandesburton, East Yorkshire.  The property mix will comprise 14 apartments across two blocks, alongside ten individual two-bedroom homes and four, three-bedroom homes. Premier Modular will produce each module off-site, adding brickwork cladding, roofing, and placing the finishing touches to the exterior frames before transportation to Leeds.  

Helen Francis, business development director (North) for United Living, said: “We’re incredibly excited to begin the construction phase of what will be our first fully modular development. Without compromising on quality, the speed of delivery will really set this project aside and – with radical solutions needed to fix the UK’s national housing shortage – this could be a trailblazer for others to follow.  If all goes to plan, from concept to completion we’re looking at almost halving the time it would take to construct these homes through traditional methods.”

“We’re also currently progressing talks with a number of Yorkshire-based schools and colleges to deliver work placements during the build phase of this project.  These placements will be a great opportunity for United Living, Leeds City Council, and our partners on this scheme to introduce the next generation to modern methods of construction.”    

Eugenio De Sa, managing director for Premier Modular, said: “We’re excited to be involved in this first prestigious pilot scheme for Leeds City Council.  This project gives us the opportunity to showcase how using off-site construction can reduce programme schedules, as well as the quality of construction that can be achieved.”

The first deliveries of homes to the Leeds site are anticipated as early as mid-summer this year.

Access to the site will be granted at the same time as manufacture begins, to allow for preliminary works including drainage and pile foundations. Filling joints, including staircases, and finishing touches will take place in-situ.      

All homes and apartments are scheduled to be in place by late autumn, with the final stages of construction to include the laying of roadways, paths and driveways.  Exterior works including fencing and landscaping will then be completed by February 2020. 

The development at Leeds Meynell has been procured under the YorBuild framework. United Living says the accelerated delivery plan could result in planning permission being obtained less than 13 weeks from the drawing up of the original concept.  

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