London housing shortage: Lewisham council to build a string of ‘prefab villages’ for homeless families


A London council is to build a string of “prefab villages” in an attempt to cut its housing waiting list.

Lewisham borough has one of the capital’s worst housing shortages, with 10,000 people on the waiting list and more than 2,000 families in temporary accommodation.

Planners have just approved 34 modular homes in a new seven-storey timber-framed building in Deptford topped by a planted “green roof”.

The building will be produced off-site in a factory and will arrive in south-east London with windows, cladding, electrics and plumbing already in place, and ready-fitted kitchens and bathrooms. This means construction time will be dramatically faster than with conventional building methods.

The two- and three-bedroom flats, designed by one of Britain’s leading architectural practices, will go to homeless families currently in emergency accommodation. The homes are expected to be completed in 2020 on the council-owned site.

A similar project with 24 homes has been up and running in Ladywell since 2016, after a rapid, six-month building project which cost just under £5 million, or around £200,000 per property.

Two similar pop-ups designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have been granted planning consent in Lee and Sydenham. Lewisham council has already committed to at least one more.

The homes are likely to remain on the sites for around four years and can then be dismantled and moved to new locations. Although they are temporary, the council believes they will be a vital stopgap for families while new homes and estate regeneration projects are completed.

“We are committed to delivering 1,000 new social homes over the next four years, which is the biggest social housing programme in the borough for decades,” said Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham. “This highly innovative project will provide 34 homes for homeless families from the borough, and a community nursery.”

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