Marking the start of national New Homes Week (14-18 May), social housing provider Stonewater, has announced ambitious plans to boost its housebuilding programme.
One of the leading developing housing associations in the country, Stonewater, which owns and manages around 31,500 homes in England, will deliver an additional 3,750 new social and affordable homes by 2022.
The social housing provider is investing over £500 million in a development programme that will see the organisation increasing the number of homes it builds annually from 717 completions in 2016/17, to over 1,000 new homes in 2019/20.
The organisation’s housebuilding programme has been helped by a £250 million, 3.375 per cent bond issue last year; which it is retaining for future sale to investors; a £100 million note issue, and £50 million funding from the Government’s financing partner, Affordable Housing Finance plc. Stonewater has also embarked on a business-wide office rationalisation and digital transformation programme which is expected to generate significant efficiency savings that will be reinvested into building more homes.
The social landlord is additionally looking at delivering its housing development programme through more efficient and innovative construction solutions, including off-site manufacturing, which could provide a quicker, greener and higher quality product.
“The advantage of factory-built homes is that their construction is not affected by the weather or current skills and labour shortages which gives us greater certainty over cost, quality and programme,” explains Jonathan Layzell, Stonewater Executive Director for Development. “Off-site manufacturing could shorten our build times from a year to about three months depending on the size of the site. This would significantly reduce customers’ occupancy waiting times and provide people with a higher quality and cheaper-to-run, energy-efficient home.”
Stonewater is set to trial a factory-built housing scheme, which if successful, could see the social housing provider investing in off-site manufacturing technology and setting up local production plants.
“We could be looking at as little as eight weeks to construct a ready-to-move-into home and deliver it by lorry straight from the factory floor on to site with minimum environmental impact or disruption,” says Jonathan Layzell.
“With controlled factory conditions and production line precision, we can build better quality, airtight and more thermally efficient affordable homes with fewer defects. Furthermore, they can be constructed from recycled and more sustainable materials, minimising our waste and carbon footprint. Offsite construction is certainly an attractive solution for us which could be the way of the future.”