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Planning update – from modular apartments to affordable homes

In this planning update, PIT takes a closer look at the 400-plus homes coming to Cambridge as part of a joint venture, TopHat’s 180 factory-built homes set for Kent, and Pocket Living’s affordable home scheme for first-time buyers in Barnet.

Planning secured for further 421 new homes in Cambridge

The Hill Group and its joint venture partner Marshall have secured full Reserved Matters planning for the second phase of the Marleigh scheme to bring a further 421 homes to Cambridge.


Phase 2 will run in conjunction with the current phase of the scheme, which aims to deliver 547 new homes and a wealth of community facilities, including a primary school, a nursery and a market square over the next five years.

Andy Hill of Hill Marshall LLP, comments: “We are delighted to have secured planning for the delivery of more homes and community facilities in this exciting new neighbourhood in East Cambridge, which has attracted a broad mix of buyers already.”

“We have an unwavering commitment to supporting the wider Cambridge local economy, and it has been excellent to see our efforts supported through this latest approval.”

Construction will start on-site to build the homes in early 2022, when a mix of private and affordable apartments and homes will be delivered as part of the long term masterplan.

The properties have been designed to feature active frontages and views overlooking open landscaped spaces, helping to improve the indoor-outdoor connection and encourage people to have a better relationship with nature.

In addition, every new home will feature a range of energy-saving and carbon reduction features, including fabric first designs, air-source heat pumps and photovoltaics.

The master plan has been designed as a place where the city meets the country, offering higher density homes with easy access to the Cambridge countryside. As such, Phase 2 seeks to ‘embrace this interplay between urban and landscape living’ with green spaces at the heart of the neighbourhood.

These spaces encourage healthy lifestyles with a particular emphasis on creating a range of accessible outdoor areas, prioritising pedestrians and cyclists over cars.

This will include The Titch, a new garden square that will sit at the heart of the community for easy access by residents. It will provide amenity space, play areas with naturalistic play equipment appropriate to the setting, and SuDS features in landscape corridors to enhance the site's biodiversity.

Phase 2 has been underpinned by the vision set out in the Design Code, created for the wider master plan. As a result, the material palette features a diverse range of high-quality brickwork in a range of colours and textures. These materials establish an exciting street scene and integrate with the emerging character that has been developed in Phase 1.

Extensive cycle parking provisions have been incorporated for all residents, including the apartment buildings, each with a dedicated secure bike store close to the entrance.

Richard Howe of Hill Marshall LLP adds: “Our vision is to deliver a new vibrant and sustainable community at Marleigh, centred around exceptional shared facilities and green spaces. We are pleased to be working with Hill Group once again on this second phase and are very much looking forward to starting work on-site in the New Year.”

The project team for Marleigh Phase 2 includes Terence O'Rourke, JTP LLP, Bradley Murphy Design and WSP.

Greenlight for 183 factory-built homes in Kent

Planning permission has been approved for the construction of three four-storey blocks of modular apartments, which will comprise 96 one and two-bedroom homes, of which 32 will be affordable.

All apartments will be precision-engineered along high-tech production lines at TopHat’s factory in South Derbyshire.

TopHat is delivering almost 300 new homes at the 4.8-acre Kitchener Barracks site. The new homes are being delivered across three phases, with over 100 already delivered by the modular housing company.

Work is expected to start on-site in the new year, creating a number of jobs both in Kent and Derbyshire. 

The new apartments will be the first TopHat has ever delivered and signals the company’s move to delivering alternative residential assets for investors, such as build-to-rent and co-living schemes. The company is backed by a £75 million investment from Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank which has been building its build-to-rent portfolio over the last few years.

By manufacturing the apartments offsite, TopHat is able to cut delivery times by half compared to traditional methods, making the company’s approach more appealing to developers of all types, but particularly in the build-to-rent and co-living markets.

This third phase at Kitchener Barracks sees the delivery of a further 183 homes and includes repurposing the early 20th century barracks to deliver 68 apartments plus 19 two and four-bedroom houses.

Dating from 1757 and named after Earl Kitchener in 1928, the Kitchener Barracks site is an important local landmark, most recently used as accommodation for the Royal School of Military Engineering. This heritage has been referenced throughout the design of the new neighbourhood, with updated and refurbished buildings taking centre stage and mature greenery being given a new lease of life. 

All private-sale homes at Kitchener Barracks will be sold by TopHat on the open market.

Andrew Shepherd, managing director at TopHat, comments: “This latest milestone at Kitchener Barracks will see us begin the delivery of our first apartments. These new apartments demonstrate the solid growth of our business as we continue to diversify our product range to help our clients.”

“Kitchener Barracks has been a huge focus of ours for the last few years and we’re extremely proud to be delivering these new, sustainable homes.”

Pocket Living sets out affordable home scheme in Barnet

Housing developer Pocket Living has signed a build contract with HG Construction to deliver a scheme for 86 one-bedroom homes for first-time buyers at Woodside Park in Barnet, London.

The deal – which follows a completed agreement with Transport for London for the site – is the culmination of several years of planning and managing technical hurdles associated with the site’s proximity to the railway track, including complex works to cable infrastructure.

Woodside Park N12 is located adjacent to Woodside Park Station in Barnet. The development will provide 86 Pocket one-bedroom homes across two separate buildings each rising to four storeys.

Residents of Woodside Park N12 will have access to two rooftop gardens with lush planting and allotment beds for residents to grow their own produce.

The scheme will be sold to Barnet’s first-time buyers at a 20% discount to the local market.

Planning update – from modular apartments to affordable homes

Nick Cuff, Pocket Living’s chief commercial officer, comments: “This is exactly the kind of challenging small site which needs to come forward if we are to solve the housing crisis.  Whilst there have been challenges along the way, the joint working between TfL and Pocket will now lead to the creation of 86 first-time buyer homes for local residents of Barnet.”

“Pocket has always been at the heart of innovative collaborations in the housing sector and we believe new thinking and working in partnership with the public sector is crucial if we are serious about tackling the housing crisis. The delivery of this site demonstrates our commitment to this.”

“We are also thrilled to be working on the delivery side again with our construction partners HG. This will be the seventh collaboration with their team and we are all looking forward to seeing this building coming out of the ground.”

Conor Rice, managing director of HG Construction, adds: “HG Construction has built up a wealth of experience in delivering challenging and complex London schemes which are highly relevant to this project. We have an excellent working relationship with Pocket Living and we are delighted to be partnering with them again to deliver this innovative Woodside Park scheme which will help address the local housing shortage.”

To be eligible to purchase a Pocket home, prospective buyers can’t already own another property and must live or work in the borough of the respective development.

All buyers must earn under the Mayor of London’s income threshold for affordable housing. When the homes are sold on, new purchasers must meet the original criteria and have a household income below the Mayor of London’s affordable housing threshold.

Buyers own 100% of their property, which are sold at a minimum of a 20% discount to the local market.


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