The idea of ‘meanwhile homes’ as a solution to the housing crisis is refreshing. It brings together some of the biggest topics in housing – sustainability, micro living and modular housing.
But what does it mean?
‘Meanwhile housing’ is where temporary housing is built on vacant land until it’s needed for other purposes. It’s actively encouraged to help move families out of unsuitable and poor temporary housing and into a more affordable, beautiful looking home.
The UK’s first ‘pop up’ village was built on vacant land in Southeast London in 2016 to successfully house families who were forced to live in B&B’s until more permanent homes were sourced. With rent and property prices skyrocketing and housing waiting lists growing longer and longer, councils and local authorities are under pressure to find a solution.
How can it help the housing crisis?
Temporary accommodation is supposed to be temporary. But families are reporting that they’re left there for weeks, sometimes months, while more permanent homes are secured and this accommodation isn’t always in good condition. It can take anywhere up to three months for councils and local authorities to make a decision as they’re often really busy with thousands of families and not enough homes to house them all. According to Shelter UK, tenants can ask their Temporary Housing Officer for alternative accommodation if they believe it’s unsuitable, if it’s unaffordable, overcrowded or in poor condition. But with thousands of families needing help and sitting on the waiting list, it’s not always easy to get.
In Scotland, families can only stay in a B&B for seven days. A limit on temporary accommodation stays would change people’s lives. But new, affordable and suitable housing would be even better. Traditionally built developments can take anywhere between three and five years to be built and people are still slow to take to modular housing. We need an immediate solution.
With planning known to be a notoriously long and difficult process, ‘meanwhile housing’ can provide a temporary solution. It also means that the land isn’t sitting vacant for years. While the planning process is in motion and the land is left unused, families can live in nicer housing while they wait for more permanent homes and stay out of B&Bs.
Thurston’s modular solution
In 2019 we worked with Hugg Homes and Broxbourne Council to deliver 32 temporary homes to help support local, lower income families. The ‘pop-up’ homes were put in place to relieve housing issues in the area, getting families off waiting lists and into homes. Rather than having dormant land lying empty for years while developers work on their long-term plans, it provides an immediate high-quality, affordable housing solution.
When you think ‘pop-up’ home, you may not think of quality. But think again. Our high-quality modular homes for Hugg Homes maximise space with fitted furniture and appliances. Creating an efficient and well insulated living environment. With sustainability in mind, the homes are energy-efficient and provide good acoustic performance with minimal noise transfer. They’re also situated in a landscaped courtyard with ample green, play and leisure spaces.
The land in Chestnut is part of a much bigger regeneration project and planning application that would otherwise have been vacant for a number of years. Eventually the area will provide housing, business units and a local centre including a primary school and landscaped public areas. But for now, it’s providing a much needed, immediate solution for the area’s housing issues.
Do you think your local area could benefit from ‘meanwhile housing’? We can provide an immediate solution. Find out how by getting in touch with us.