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Development roundup – redevelopment schemes and a modular focus

Dover District Council has approved Etopia Homes’ plans to deliver 50 eco-friendly homes on a site in Eastry, Kent.

Situated on Gore Lane, the scheme is set to deliver 56 private sale homes and 15 affordable homes, comprising a mix of two, three and four bedrooms.

The 6.35-acre development, called Greensands, is said to be one of the UK’s most energy-efficient, helping Dover District Council to meet carbon reduction targets while delivering much-needed housing.


All of the homes being delivered will achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating well above the highest category of ‘A’. In the UK, only 1% of new builds are ‘A’ rated, while the average rating is ‘D’.

Etopia Homes, one of five companies that sits within the Reuben Brothers-backed Etopia Group, achieve this by using low-carbon technologies, sustainable building methods and materials, and smart devices that collect real-time data on a home’s energy performance.

The homes will be manufactured at Etopia Homes’ Cheshire factory before arriving on site. The housebuilder is capable of delivering 2,000 factory-built homes a year using the company’s ‘hyper structurally insulated’ panelised system.

Once complete, the panels will be shipped to Eastry and installed to form a home’s ‘superstructure’ – a process that takes as little as three days.

As part of the plans, Etopia Homes will be acting as a ‘turnkey’ developer – by which it has secured the land and gained planning and will now go on to develop the site and install the pre-manufactured homes. This will enable the developer to ensure that tight construction programmes can be kept to and that stringent quality checks are consistent throughout the development process.

Other key features of the homes include:

  • Integrated low-carbon technologies – such as air source heat pumps and solar panels – which provide clean and cheap energy for residents

  • Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MHVR) system that is fitted with a filter that can remove 80-90% of certain allergens, as well as pollution. The technology enables Etopia to build homes in any location, such as along a busy city centre A road, while ensuring that residents will not be affected by higher local pollution levels

  • As an addition, sensor technology that helps optimise a home’s energy use and regulate humidity levels. For example, if more people are in a home than usual, and therefore creating more heat and humidity, the technology will alert the homeowner enabling them to adjust the settings to ensure that energy is not being wasted

All of the homes are expected to meet and exceed soon-to-be-introduced regulations – which require all new-build homes to be net-zero ready by 2025 – meaning consumers will not be faced with huge retrofit costs later down the line. 

Work on site is due to start later this month, with the first homes being completed by the end of the year.

James Pikett, development director at Etopia Homes, says: “This site represents our biggest scheme to date, demonstrating the rapid growth trajectory we’ve been on over the last few years as a company.”

“Our ambition, via developments such as this, is to scale up the delivery of eco-friendly developments that prioritise placemaking and beauty. Thanks to our patented technology, we can ensure we’re able to consistently deliver on this quickly and efficiently.”

£4.6m loan granted for seaside hotel redevelopment in Somerset

Aldermore Bank has provided a £4.6 million property development loan to Refresh Property Group Limited for the construction of 40 new residential apartments on the site of the former Lynton House Hotel.

The 56-bed hotel was ravaged by a major fire in December 2008 and ceased trading. Another fire on the site in 2015 resulted in further damage to the building structure. Now, the Victorian building will be demolished and replaced by new buildings.

The new development will consist of 12 one-bedroom apartments and 28 two-bedroom apartments. The site is located off a residential street and within reasonable walking distance of a range of local amenities including parks, bars, restaurants, and a beach located within a 5-minute walk.

The loan was provided to Refresh Living No.4 Limited, a direct subsidiary of Refresh Property Group Limited.

Mark Thomas, managing director of Acorn Homes, which comprises Refresh Property Group, comments: “It was great to complete our first deal with Aldermore on this exciting project which we have been working on for seven years and taken through numerous planning processes. Aldermore offers both residential development and investment finance and as such is a natural lender for us as we are both a developer and a private sector landlord.”

“Colin and his team were very responsive and pragmatic throughout the transaction and we hope that this is the first deal of many together. We look forward to rejuvenating this site and adding rental stock in Weston-super-Mare to our ever-growing PRS portfolio.”

Colin Ness, property development manager at Aldermore, adds: “It’s great to be able to breathe new life into a site which has been derelict for well over a decade now. Mark and his team were very easy to deal with and are highly experienced at working on new build schemes such as this. We’re looking forward to seeing the site complete and contributing to the regeneration of the local area.”

Green light for £260m scheme and public park in Digbeth

Birmingham City Council has approved plans for Cole Waterhouse’s £260 million scheme in Digbeth, Birmingham.

The landmark 5.11-acre development, Upper Trinity Street (UTS), will see the existing industrial land transformed into a cultural commercial and residential scheme including a new one-acre public park called Pump House Park.

Designed by Corstorphine&Wright with sustainability at its core, UTS will include 943 new homes, some with live-work space and roof gardens, a 133-bedroom hotel, 60,000 sq ft of flexible commercial space, car parking and large new areas of public realm across a network of landscaped yards, squares and hidden spaces.

The development of UTS is expected to create 600 jobs during the construction phase, deliver £229.5 million gross value added (GVA) to the local economy and will create up to 313 additional jobs once built.

Work is set to commence in summer 2022 once funding is secured and the scheme will be developed over a number of phases with the first phases completing in 2025.

Since securing the land in 2019 Cole Waterhouse has been working closely with the local community, Birmingham City Council and neighbouring landowners to evolve its vision for Upper Trinity Street.

The project team has worked collaboratively with the Canal & River Trust to develop Pump House Park which is designed around the historic lock keeper’s cottage which is planned to be retained and renovated. 

The park will include a range of different spaces including playable landscapes as well as biodiversity features and extensive soft landscaping including native tree planting. Historic features will be retained and contextualised with interpretation boards introduced to celebrate the site’s unique Victorian engineering history.

Cole Waterhouse chief executive officer Damian Flood comments: “Our vision for Upper Trinity Street is to create a superb new space for Digbeth which marries the area’s rich industrial history and diverse culture with high quality, well-designed buildings and spaces for future generations to enjoy.”

“This is a really important moment in Digbeth’s continuing evolution and we are very proud to have been granted permission to proceed with developing UTS and helping to secure a bright future for Digbeth.”

Flood says the aim is to deliver a new neighbourhood which ‘recognises the needs of the local community and which protects and enhances the area so that it can once again prosper and thrive’.

He continues: “As developers, we take our responsibility to nurture the unique ‘Digbethness’ of the area very seriously. The community response to our plans was overwhelmingly positive and our first local appointment was to bring in Jez Collins as the project’s local cultural lead. He has been working to ensure that our proposals would support and protect the area’s heritage and culture, something that was absolutely central to our vision for UTS and we now look forward to seeing that vision come to life.”

Developers’ £5 million West Yorkshire housing scheme fully sold

Developer Marrtree has sold the final property of nine 2,000 sq ft family homes on its latest £5 million residential scheme in Ilkley, West Yorkshire.

Known as the Heathers, Marrtree completed construction on the development of nine high-spec five-bedroom homes close to Ilkley town centre at the start of 2020.

Director William Marshall says: “We had already sold three of the nine houses when the pandemic hit in 2020, but marketing the remaining houses became very difficult during all those months of the lockdown.”

“As soon as restrictions began to ease, we saw a great deal of interest in the development, and the houses sold very rapidly. I think the fantastic Ilkley location, with the dales landscape all around, along with the modern style and quality of the homes, ticked a lot of boxes for people looking to relocate, or just to move to a more spacious house, as priorities changed in the face of further potential lockdowns.”

Development roundup – redevelopment schemes and a modular focus

Marketed by estate agent Dacre Son & Hartley, the development includes en-suite shower rooms, internal garages and generously sized, high-spec kitchen-living areas with bi-fold doors opening onto tree-lined back gardens.

Although it has completed a series of other residential developments in Yorkshire and the North West, Marrtree has become better known for its portfolio of more than 20 modern business parks located at strategic employment sites across the north of England.

These include a £5.5 million Marrtree Business Park at Sowerby Gateway, the new 85-acre development near Thirsk, the first phase of which was completed in February this year, creating more than 80 jobs. The firm has also confirmed a forthcoming scheme at Clifton Moor in York.

Fellow director, George Marshall, adds: “Whether it is residential or business accommodation, our hallmark is creating modern, high-quality space in great locations where people actively want to live or work. We have new developments due for completion in the coming months and are actively looking for new sites for future schemes.”

Legal & General acquires major modular homes scheme in Kent

Legal & General Modular Homes has partnered with Town & Country Housing to acquire a site in Broadstairs, Kent for the development of 153 modular homes.

Together with its schemes in Selby, Bristol and North Horsham, this latest move brings Legal & General Modular Homes’ pipeline to 670 new homes. It will be creating up to 300 new jobs by the year-end across its production and logistics business areas in order to meet this ambition.

The scheme, located on Poorhole Lane, which will be funded by Homes England, will deliver 153 affordable homes for shared ownership and social rent. A range of two, three and four-bed houses will be offered through Town & Country Housing’s trading brand, Love Living Homes.

All homes have been designed to achieve an energy performance certificate (EPC) ‘A’ rating, a standard met by only around 1% of new and existing dwellings in England & Wales.

As well as bringing much needed new, high-quality, affordable homes to the area, the scheme will see improvements made to the local amenity, including the creation of a woodland walk and the planting of 8,500 trees.

From its factory in Sherburn-in-Elmet in Yorkshire, Legal & General Modular Homes has ambitions to build its annual housing delivery to 3,000 modular homes a year in 2024, bringing rapid and disruptive change to the construction industry. It is designing and manufacturing homes that are sustainable, high-quality, and affordable, transforming the way we build in the UK.

Rosie Toogood, chief executive officer of Legal & General Modular Homes, states: “In a post-pandemic environment, the importance of delivering affordable, carbon-friendly homes, set within green open spaces and at the heart of a well-connected local community has moved to the top of the agenda. Through modular construction, Legal & General is able to deliver all of this and in half the time of traditional methods.”

“With our delivery pipeline now for 670 homes, the business is making great steps forward.  Our latest scheme in Broadstairs, along with our schemes in Selby, Bristol and North Horsham will really showcase the part modular can play in helping the UK to Build Back Better.”

Colin Lissenden, development director at Town & Country Housing, adds: “We are delighted to have secured grant funding from Homes England which has really helped to bring our joint vision to reality.” 

“We here at Town & Country are committed to making a positive impact on communities by providing more affordable and sustainable homes. That’s why we’re pleased to be working alongside Legal & General on the upcoming modular construction scheme in Broadstairs.  Modular homes are an exciting approach to the UK's house-building market, that delivers fast, efficient, sustainable, and affordable options to local communities.”


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