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Fortis House, Henwood

Proposing a net zero-carbon, short-stay accommodation development.

 

In collaboration with Ashford borough Council, ZED PODS has designed and is manufacturing a pioneering modular housing development. Set above a under-utilised public car park in Flood Zone 3A, this project consists of 23 zero-operational carbon homes utilising ZED PODS' designs and a BOPAS accredited build system. The aim is to offer temporary accommodation for individuals experiencing homelessness, serving as a vital safety net and transitional solution until they secure more permanent housing arrangements.

Project 
Information

Client: Ashford Borough Council (ABC)

Location: 17 Henwood, Ashford TN24 8DH

Building Solution: Permanent

Scope of work: Full Turnkey Service (RIBA 0-7)

Status: Under Construction

Project Team

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This solution is not only a sensible option for the Council financially, having our own accommodation in which to house homeless residents, but a more socially acceptable solution for those households. As well as not paying out for expensive paid nightly accommodation, where residents have to live out of a suitcase, this provides a proper temporary home where they will receive the support they need to go on and sustain a permanent tenancy. In this carbon-zero modular option, we are delivering on our Corporate Plan objective to be a Green Pioneer and we are delighted to be working with ZED PODS.

Cllr Andrew Buchanan

Portfolio Holder for Housing

Ashford Borough Council

The Overall Picture

The council is seeking to provide more short-stay temporary accommodation that means it will, in the long-term, save money and provide a much better solution for those people who find themselves homeless in the Ashford borough. 

Under the Homelessness Reduction Act Ashford Borough Council has a legal duty to provide anybody who is homeless, or threatened with homelessness, with advice and appropriate assistance. That assistance can of course be through the provision of temporary accommodation. As is well documented,  these numbers are currently rising due to a number of contributory factors, such as the rising cost of living and many private sector landlords evicting their tenants in order to sell their homes on the open market. 

The Council already has two short-stay accommodation facilities in the borough in South Ashford – Christchurch House and Christchurch Lodge. These temporary dwellings aid households at a vulnerable time in their lives and have given them an opportunity to start again, to progress from there into accommodation suitable for them. The Council has also acquired Trafalgar House, adding to the resilience of temporary accommodation stock in the Ashford borough and making savings in the long term for its General Fund.

Of course, many of the considerations around developing this scheme are financial but there are unquantifiable social elements as well. Here, the homes will offer households who might otherwise have to stay in expensive paid-for nightly accommodation that may not meet nationally described space standards, the opportunity to stay in good quality homes that are mortgageable through BOPAS (Build Offsite Property Assurance Scheme) accreditation. These properties initially are to be let as non-secure tenancies because of its ‘move-on’ nature so will not be subject to the RTB.

The Proposal

The council is therefore proposing to make use of a much underutilised car park in Ashford to create new homes act as ‘move-on’ accommodation. Taking figures from before the pandemic, the Henwood Car Park operates at around 20% capacity and has been at this level for many years. 

The 23 homes proposed are a mix of 13 x One-bed, 9 x Two-bed and 1 x Three-bed units to ensure a mix of individuals and families are able to be accommodated in the development. There is also a large enclosed garden to the rear. This would aid the sense of community within the scheme at any one time and makes the site easier to manage from the council’s perspective, so there is very limited impact on the surrounding community.

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One of the benefits of using modular construction is that the disruption on site to surrounding residents and businesses during construction will be less than a traditional build. The time it takes to complete the work will also be shortened. However, the crucial factor driving the use of these 23 short-stay homes is that they will be a ‘stepping stone’ for individuals or households who have become homeless to rebuild their lives, before moving on to more permanent accommodation.

The principle behind this scheme is that these homes will act as ‘move-on’ accommodation. Move-on accommodation is seen in the sector as a stepping stone between temporary accommodation (often hostels or nightly-paid accommodation such as bed and breakfast) and more sustainable, lifetime tenancies. Here it will be just that, offering additional benefits to those in the least satisfactory temporary accommodation (such as those not meeting space standards for example), or homes that are the least cost-effective for the Council to pay for on an ongoing basis.

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Next Steps

Planning permission was granted in December 2022 for the development.

The scheme is on the production line of ZED PODS (an award winning British modular company).

This will be the first MMC (modern methods of construction) scheme built in the borough, and it is hoped that work will be completed in the late summer of 2024.

Project Timeline

Under Construction

Estimated Completion: Autumn 2024

Project Brief approved by the Council 

Undertook Feasibility Studies

Agree on Project Budget

Prepare Project Programme

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​Complete​d
Completed
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 Building Regulations Application

 Construction Phase Plan

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Completed
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Building handed over to the Council

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Upcoming
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Residents move in

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Upcoming
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Develop Business Case

Review Project Risks

Review Project Budget

Undertook Site Appraisals

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Completed
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Construction off-site to minimise disruption and site installation

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Ongoing
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Architectural Concept approved by the Council and aligned to the Project Brief

Obtain pre-application Planning Advice

Initial Cost Plan

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Completed
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Planning application submitted

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Completed
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