Through an innovative approach to house building, modern methods of construction have been combined with true integrated social value to develop the Lockies project on previously derelict land. Together Housing is one of the largest housing associations in the North of England, owning and managing 38,000 homes and affecting the lives of 50,000 tenants across 30 local authorities.
Working with South Kirkby Community Association and Wakefield Council, Together Housing developed a vision to transform what was once an area of land subjected to unlicensed tipping and anti-social behaviour, to a place which provides good quality affordable homes, built using structural panels manufactured in a factory.
The Lockies is unique in that it is the first affordable housing scheme of its kind where the structural panels were produced by prison inmates, who had a desire to retrain for skills which would assist in their rehabilitation back into society.
As with any project there needs to be a valid reason for embarking on a commitment to investment. This was the case for this project, where the local community group, South Kirkby Community Association (led by the late Peter Buttree), had campaigned for the derelict land to be brought back into use.
The site is located in the former coal-mining town of South Kirkby, which lies approximately 12 miles South East of Wakefield City Centre. The site separates Mill Street and Mill Lane and was used as an informal public right of way. However, in recent years the site became known as a place of anti-social behaviour and unlicensed tipping, blighting the neighbourhood.
South Kirkby Community Association (SKCA) who owned the site were concerned that constant anti-social behaviour and tipping had become a liability. SKCA approached Together Housing with a proposal to transfer the ownership of the site for the specific purpose of providing new affordable homes. The approach was made to Together Housing as one of the main housing providers for South Kirkby.
“As one of the largest Social Landlords in the North of England, we’re acutely aware that the need for new, affordable homes is not being met. Traditional building methods alone are simply not going to get houses built quickly or cost effectively enough to meet growing housing needs. This innovative approach is really helping and we are continuing to look at future developments we can undertake with Osco Homes.”
Acanthus WSM Architects were appointed by Together Housing to design the scheme. The original brief was to provide eight 2- bedroom bungalows using traditional methods of construction. The design proposals were used to consult with SKCA as well as the local authority, and a planning application was submitted on that basis.
Simultaneous with the planning consent process, Together procured tender prices to deliver the project. However, prices received were beyond the approved budget. There was a negotiation process with the lowest priced tender return, which failed to get back to budget.
Following failed negotiations on the build cost, Together Housing were invited to consider the launch of Osco Homes, a wholly owned subsidiary of Procure Plus Holdings Ltd. Oscso Homes was created to fill a gap in low rise, offsite-manufactured (OSM) residential homes for the affordable housing sector.
Osco’s niche is their ability to manufacture structural panels in a factory environment, while providing training and recruitment opportunities to low-risk prisoners at HMP Hindley. As a buyer through Procure Plus, Together Housing used this framework to negotiate a price on budget with Osco Homes and use The Lockies as a pilot with a view to rolling out on similar schemes.
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