Contractors Wates and Bouygues are pioneering an innovative approach to housebuilding by using the delivery mechanism behind Building Schools for the Future to finance and develop much-needed new homes

Wates has formed a Local Education Partnership with Luton Borough Council, while Bouygues and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets signed an LEP deal in January.

Both LEPs are now planning to build new housing and other community facilities alongside new-build and refurbished schools under the BSF programme.

Luton’s scheme is further advanced and involves 450 homes split across 12 sites in the borough. According to the town’s BSF director Robin Porter, subsidiary company Wates Living Space could start on site with the first phase of 150 homes by the fourth quarter of 2009. Most are likely to be social housing, with a minority sold at market rates.

Asked why Luton had chalked up a UK first, Porter said: ‘Because we’ve got a fantastic value-added offer from Wates, and Luton has the confidence and continuity to deliver a holistic regeneration programme.’

As well as housing and secondary schools, Luton’s LEP also has plans to build primary schools and a £25m Olympic-sized swimming pool for the town.

Meanwhile, Bouygues and Tower Hamlets are in the early stages of discussing housing schemes for the borough. ‘The LEP is in motion, we have had a few board meetings and are talking about other things other than education projects,’ said Thierry de Severac, director of housing, regeneration and private projects.

‘The idea is to capitalise on the delivery capacity present in the LEP and so avoid complicated tendering and procurement procedures,’ he said. He added that the idea was a ‘growing trend’, and that Bouygues was looking at similar ideas in other LEPs.

The French-owned contractor has 115 homes on site in a Brent PFI scheme, plus 85 in a mixed-use project in Dagenham, but builds 10,000 units annually in France. ‘For players at ease with delivering different types of tenure, there are clearly opportunities [in the UK market],’ de Severac said.