Ecobuild latest: Regeneration developer plans custom-built homes in east London

Excel Exhibition Centre

Source: Jim Linwood

Regeneration developer Igloo is planning to build floating custom built houses on the Thames next to the ExCel conference centre in London.

Speaking at the Ecobuild conference, Igloo’s executive chairman Chris Brown revealed the target as part of the developer’s plan to deliver large-scale custom build housing developments, which are connected to community energy networks. 

He told the audience: “When you come back next year or the year after that, we hope that you’ll see floating outside of ExCel some custom build houses linked up to a community energy grid.”

The firm has been selected by the Homes and Communities Agency to deliver a pilot scheme of custom build homes as part of a new neighbourhood at Trevenson Park near Redruth in Cornwall.

Brown revealed Igloo also has plans to develop custom build schemes in Nottingham and Glasgow.

Also speaking at the conference was sustainability manager of Legal & General Property, Debbie Hobbs, who revealed more details about the investor’s plans for its modular housing factory in Leeds – which will be the largest in Europe when completed.

Currently being built inside an existing warehouse, the factory is set to produce its first homes by June and will eventually build up to 3,000 homes a year for the build to rent market.

Speaking about the factory, Hobbs said Legal & General plans to address a number of issues facing the housebuilding industry.

Hobbs said the off-site manufacture of modular housing can address sustainability, while the focus on issues such as air tightness can improve the quality of the homes.

She added: “Hopefully you can address affordability, because you’re producing modules in a factory, whatever the design is like. You can also address labour issues and timescales. Once the infrastructure is in place, (the homes) can go in very quickly.”

Sarah Pratt, head of corporate sustainability at Barratt, was also speaking at the conference and revealed the volume housebuilder is also looking at other construction methods.

She said: “The housing crisis does mean we need to build faster, but we also have to diversify our construction techniques.

“We need to look at alternative methods of construction. We are looking at a range of possibilities at a number of our sites.”

Head of asset sustainability at housing association Affinity Sutton, Alex Willey, said the organisation is still in merger talks with Circle Housing, and added that the proposed new social housing provider is aiming to deliver 5,000 new homes a year by 2020.

She also said Affinity Sutton is also working on regeneration and retrofitting schemes of some of its existing estates.