A £1.1 million block of flats which will provide homes for street sleepers in Norwich has been constructed in just three days – as part of a county-wide initiative to tackle homelessness.
Crowds looked on as six ready-fabricated modular apartments were craned into place on a site in the south of the city, with each storey being ‘built’ in just one day, in an innovative approach to providing speedy solutions to a pressing problem.
The six flats at Webster Court, off City Road, will provide homes for rough sleepers, with tenancies of between six and 24 months aimed at helping the individuals find a long-term solution to their homelessness, and to the underlying causes of that homelessness.
The new homes have been built in a partnership between Norwich City Council, which gifted the land, and Broadland Housing Association, which funded the construction with support from the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities and from Homes England.
The unique modular construction, which saw each individual flat lifted into place in its entirety by a giant crane, was chosen both for the speed of construction, and to minimise disruption on the site, which is immediately adjacent to the Webster Court housing with care scheme run by St Martin’s Housing Trust.
Each flat was lowered into position with windows, heating systems, kitchens and bathrooms already fitted.
Watching the delicate craning operation was Cllr Gail Harris, cabinet member for social housing at Norwich City Council, who said, “It’s identified in our Rough Sleeping Strategy that we are in desperate need of homes for people who might be homeless, or who are on the verge of being homeless.
“None of us can do it by ourselves, it’s too big a problem, but if you can work with organisations who have the same ethos, the results can be tremendous.
“It’s so wonderful to see these homes that have grown almost overnight. What a start for someone who could have their lives changed, and with the proper support, will be able to progress through life in a far better place.”
Andrew Savage, executive development director at Broadland Housing Association, whose team has project managed the construction of the new homes, said, “We chose a modular construction route because of speed. We are looking at a very tight site here, so we needed a solution that would minimise disruption and have just three days of actual construction.
“The fundamental issue we have in the UK, and in Norwich, is that we do not have enough housing. That is why we have a problem, that is why we have street homelessness, that is why so many vulnerable groups are struggling to find the right accommodation. That is why it’s so important to be delivering housing.”
The first residents in the new homes is scheduled to move in before Christmas.The project has also benefitted from a wider partnership, including tenancy support providers St Martin’s Housing Trust and The Magdalen Group; modular supplier Modpods International; technical consultants Ingleton Wood, Aecom and Rossi Long; Munnings Construction.
Watch the video of the 'craning in' process and find out more about Broadland Housing at www.broadlandgroup.org/webster-court-flats-built-in-3-days/