Atkins and Colmore Tang launch offsite initiatives for social housing

Two firms have responded to the UK’s housing crisis by announcing offsite manufacturing initiatives aimed specifically at the social housing sector.

Engineering giant Atkins has teamed up with a new steel-framed housing system supplier to launch “MetroHome”, a concept designed to let local authorities build on small brownfield sites.

And Birmingham-based Colmore Tang Construction launched a division to supply land, planning and properties for social housing. The company said it was “keen to be involved with” offsite manufacturing for its new division.

The moves follow last month’s call by a UK cross-party housing commission for three million new social homes to be built in the next 20 years, a dramatic increase on the current level of just over 6,000 homes a year.

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Philip Hoare, UK & Europe chief executive officer of SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, said: “The UK’s housing crisis has had a detrimental impact on society for too long. If we want to get close to narrowing the gap between supply and demand the market needs disruption, and offsite constructed housing offers a great opportunity to bring a fresh approach to this decades-old housing shortage.”

Participating in the Atkins initiative is Parabuild Solutions, a company launched in 2016 to provide a low-cost steel framed housing system.

Atkins said experts from across the housing sector developed MetroHome, which will enable properties to be built “in as little as 10 weeks and for 30% less cost than traditional industry new-build methods”. It added: “The solution has the future potential to deliver thousands of high quality council homes per year for local authorities.”

Its commercial model allows councils to retain freehold on the land.

The first MetroHome houses will be built later this year in the London Borough of Lambeth.

Colmore Tang’s new social housing division, Colmore Tang Living, aims to source land in the Midlands to deliver up to 100 high-quality houses per site using unspecified offsite manufacturing methods.

The company said it would be “a one-stop shop for sourcing land, achieving planning and delivering properties”.

Andy Robinson, CEO of Colmore Tang Group, said: “We’ve long championed forward-thinking practices that bring significant benefits to the construction industry, and off-site manufacturing is a fast, lean and efficient method that we are keen to be involved with.”

Meanwhile, UK volume housebuilder Weston Group announced the opening of a “housebuilding factory” in Braintree, Essex, to provide kitchen and bathroom assemblies for its residential developments.

Image: Modular home construction (Colmore Tang)

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