Parson Cross, Sheffield
Sheffield City Council was looking to launch a small-scale project delivered with Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), with a view to incorporating it as part of its ambitious Stock Increase Programme, which aims to deliver 3,100 new council homes by 2029.
It identified at site at Knutton Crescent in the Parson Cross area of the city, where there is a recognised need for affordable homes.
It was looking to create four, four-bedroom family homes on the site, and needed help assessing the best route to take.
Councillor Paul Wood, the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “As our first step in to MMC for new council homes, we have intentionally started small. We hope that building homes in this way in the future on a larger scale will help deliver wider benefits including cost reductions.
“We’ll be learning from the project, assessing what these homes are like to manage and maintain, and how we would do things differently if there are further phases.”
CPC assisted Sheffield City Council from the beginning, helping its officers to understand the process for delivering modular homes.
Through the NH2 Offsite Construction of New Homes Framework, modular specialist M-AR was appointed to the project. The three partners worked together throughout to deliver the four pilot homes.
Janet Sharpe, director of housing and neighbourhood service, said: “As our first MMC project we were keen to get this right. We wanted to deliver quality homes for our tenants while testing for ourselves the benefits of this type of construction in terms of speed of delivery, quality assurance and energy efficiency.
“Procuring this project through the CPC NH2 framework gave us the all-important assurance we needed as we took our first step on our own MMC journey. Having the help and guidance of the regional framework team at CPC gave us the confidence to press ahead with our plans knowing that technical support and expertise was on hand.”
Tony Maw, CPC technical support manager, said: “We started working with Sheffield City Council even before the project started, and this relationship really helps to provide an understanding of what frameworks are available and which will best help achieve the objectives of a project.
“It also provides reassurance that we can help to deliver a quality product, that our providers have gone through rigorous due diligence and are fully accredited, and that we can achieve the best prices for our clients through our frameworks. They also get the added value of free technical support throughout the project.”
The four homes were precision engineered in M-AR’s quality-controlled factory environment in East Yorkshire, in compliance with ISO9001 procedures, using a light gauge steel frame system, which is known as “modular” or “volumetric”. The homes have also been built under the Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS) which provides assurance to the lending community and the home owners that innovatively-designed and constructed properties (against which they may be lending) will deliver consistent performance and stand the test of time.
The homes look and feel just like a traditionally-built home, but are more efficient, with a brick exterior and pitched roof.
Using this Modern Method of Construction, speed of delivery was quickened, quality was assured and levels of energy efficiency were increased, while there was less construction activity on site, causing less disruption to the local area.
The homes were handed over within 10 months from the start of the initial design work, with onsite construction works taking about six months. All four homes were occupied less than five months after the modules were lifted into place.
M-AR Partnerships and Business Development Director Amanda Grimbleby said: “There is a national housing waiting list of more than 1.1million households, according to homelessness charity Shelter, underlining the need to accelerate delivery of more affordable homes across the UK.
“The homes we have built at Knutton Crescent are built to higher-quality standards than traditionally-built homes, and are extremely air tight, significantly reducing heat loss and reducing fuel bills for those families who need it most – and not to mention, in half the timescale of traditionally-built homes.
“It has been a pleasure to be involved in this project, and for me the real success here is not just the homes we have delivered in a short timescale, but the homes have been constructed in our factory during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is a credit to the M-AR and Sheffield City Council teams.”