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Birmingham council to build first modular home following criticism

Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT), Birmingham City Council’s house-building arm has received planning permission to install its first modular home.

The council believe modular could be a solution to the growing social housing waiting list for people who require one-bed or two-bed properties.

The home will be built in Heaton Street in Hockley and BMHT say they are planning to trial a 50-home offsite manufactured housing development elsewhere in the city later this year.

The council has been slow to incorporate modular into its social housing stock compared with other local authorities of a similar size.

In November, Planning News met Andy Reeve of DemoDev, a Birmingham-based start-up which utilises land registry data to identify small plots of council-owned land that could be used to build modular housing.

He criticised the housebuilding approach taken by BMHT since it was formed in 2010, accusing them of blocking innovation in the marketplace which has slowed the growth of solutions that might help tackle the current housing crisis.

‘They monopolise all the land and act like any other developer who can choose when they develop the land and stop anything else which might be competition for them,’ he said.

‘That’s when the developer framework mindset kicks in for the council and they build what’s right for the market rather than what’s right for people.’

Clive Skidmore, assistant director for housing development at Birmingham City Council said Birmingham has a tradition of embracing techniques like off-site manufacturing.

‘This dates back to the post-war era and examples can still be seen of this style across the city in locations like the widely-celebrated Wake Green Road pre-fabs,’ he said.

‘Today, the highest priority for BMHT is to ensure that high-quality social housing remains readily available to meet the needs of Birmingham’s citizens. That’s exactly why we’ve developed our own modular house type, rather than depending on existing external companies.

‘It means that we can specify the design and materials used, ensure that they live up to our aspirations and guarantee that the Birmingham modular home is not seen as a substitute for a traditionally built one.’

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