The Pan-London Accommodation Collaborative Enterprise (PLACE) Ltd will provide “precision-manufactured family homes” that can be moved from one site to another as required. The accommodation will be placed on vacant land – known as ‘meanwhile’ sites – that are suitable for housing over the short to medium term.
PLACE, a not-for-profit company, was set up by a group of London boroughs earlier this year in response to growing rates of homelessness. There are currently over 54,300 London households living in temporary accommodation (TA) – of which nearly 44,000 are families with children. Lambeth currently has more than 2100 homeless households living in TA, with almost 60% of these households currently living outside of the borough boundary.
Lambeth’s cabinet agreed to join the innovative scheme this week, after they were told that the PLACE plan fits in with the council’s own approach to temporary accommodation. A report to cabinet said Lambeth’s TA strategy aimed to increase the availability of good-quality, affordable council-owned TA within the borough. It also aims to reduce reliance on expensive nightly paid “annexe-type” accommodation, which accounts for the majority of out of borough placements and which places significant financial pressures on the Council.
Councillor Paul Gadsby, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Homelessness is one of the biggest challenges facing the council – and London as a whole. We’re determined to do everything we can to provide more homes for families who are currently living in temporary accommodation.
“We want to make the best use of land that is currently available, while ensuring that any new accommodation we can provide is of the highest quality. This project allows us to do that in collaboration with other London councils who are ready to play their part in tackling homelessness.”
PLACE has now issued an invitation to tender for the design and manufacture of modular temporary accommodation. It is the first time UK local authorities have collaborated to acquire modular housing for TA.
The project has been developed by the London Housing Directors’ Group in collaboration with partners from across London local government. It is supported by the Greater London Authority, which is investing £11 million from its innovation fund, London Ventures, which invested seed funding, and the umbrella group London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London, which will go towards the cost of development.
PLACE is hosted by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and has an initial target of delivering 200 modular homes across the capital.