UK to get its first ‘flat-pack’ homes from Ikea-owned company
Deal with local council could provide a radical blueprint to solve Britain’s housing crisis
The UK is to get its first “flat-pack” homes, after Worthing Council agreed a deal with an Ikea-owned Swedish company, which could provide the template for a cheap and easy way to help solve Britain’s housing crisis.
BoKlok, a company jointly owned by the Swedish retail giant Ikea and construction firm Skanska, specialises in factory-built housing that can be constructed at a low cost. It sets property prices based on how much owners can afford after the cost of living is taken into account, meaning “a single parent can afford to buy and live in a newly built two-bedroom BoKlok apartment”, according to their website.
The firm has so far built 11,000 homes across Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, but an attmept to break into the UK ten years ago was poorly timed.
The Guardian reports that “previous plans for a development in Tyneside were scaled back when the financial crisis hit, but its latest effort is a collaboration with Worthing council, which believes it can achieve more affordable homes through the deal than if it sells the land to a conventional developer”.
Under the plans, Worthing will license the developer to use the land to build 162 homes rather than selling it off, charging it an annual ground rent. In return, the council will get 30% of the properties, which the BBC says “would be used for social housing in areas where the council says there is a shortage of homes and high house price inflation”.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that average house prices in Worthing, West Sussex, were 11.7 times average salaries last year, compared with 7.8 times across England and Wales.
The houses will be manufactured offsite and include flooring and tiling, as well as an Ikea kitchen. They will then be assembled on location but “because most of the construction is done in the factory, a small apartment can be built in a single day”, says The Independent.
The news site says “it is also more environmentally friendly thanks to its timber frames and recycling programme, meaning the carbon footprint is less than half that of normal building projects”.
To work out how much to charge, the average salary for a full-time worker in the Worthing area is used to calculate what residents can pay after tax and the monthly cost of living. From this, an affordable 25-year mortgage is then calculated.
“If the project is successful a further 500 homes could be built in the near-future,” says HuffPost UK.
The Guardian says the project “is one of a range of ways councils are working with developers to create more affordable homes for local people”. Croydon Council has set up a company called Brick by Brick which is building homes for social rent subsidised by homes sold on the open market.
News of the deal comes as an influential Commons committee warned the government would struggle to meet its target to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the 2020s.
The Public Accounts Committee said hitting the target would require a significant increase in the rate of house building, with the number of new homes averaging just 177,000 a year between 2005/06 and 2017/18.