Housing associations, offsite manufacturing firms and property sector organisations have launched a call to build low-cost Homes for Heroes, to thank essential workers who’ve kept Britain going during the coronavirus outbreak.
The alliance, which includes G15 (a group of London’s largest housing associations) has set out a broad outline of how 100,000 affordable homes could be built throughout the country, inspired by the ‘Homes fit For Heroes’ programme after the First World War.
“We appreciate the selfless dedication of essential workers who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect the health of the nation and to support us during the lockdown and after. It’s time to start a conversation on how we can repay society’s debt to our heroic essential workers,” said Kate Davies, chief executive of G15 member Notting Hill Genesis.
The report is calling on the private, public and charitable sectors to join together to drive the programme forward and says that while it “stands ready to deliver” it would be able to do much more in partnership with the Government, private sector, local councils, health trusts and charities.
Helen Evans, Chair of the G15 and 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 should 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 should be well designed, with private outdoor space, in convenient well-connected locations for healthcare facilities, schools and other employment hubs.”
To work at scale the efforts of housing associations would need to be supplemented by a large programme of public and corporate giving, innovative use of public land, planning flexibilities and an expansion in manufacturing capacity to build high-tech homes in factories, says the report.
“Modular construction will enable the delivery of high-quality homes at a much faster rate than through traditional construction. In a post Covid-19 crisis environment, the speed of delivery will be more important than ever before,” said Rosie Toogood, CEO Legal and General Modular Homes.
“The Homes for Heroes campaign unites several great causes: creating quality homes for genuine heroes, powering innovation and skills right at the time we need to create jobs and pushing the bar upwards when it comes to quality and sustainability. We’re delighted to support this initiative.”
The G15 has created a report on how Homes for Heroes can be delivered, resting on four building blocks:
- Create a national programme of low-cost homes prioritised for those who have put themselves at risk to keep us alive and healthy throughout this crisis, such as NHS staff, care workers, teachers, refuse collectors and delivery workers.
- Deliver an initial burst of thousands of homes within months, by matching government funding with housing association resources to make completed homes and those under construction available on a low-cost basis for essential workers.
- Support a high-tech manufacturing base to create jobs across the country – powering a long-term ambitious programme to deliver the low-cost homes our heroes need.
- Spread the costs across society by part-funding the homes through public giving, public land, government funding and housing associations’ resources.
Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy and UK Government Modern Methods of Construction Champion for Homebuilding said:
“This initiative sits well with the heightened mood of public gratitude towards the nation’s key workers. It also represents perhaps 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.
“At the same time this initiative 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.”