News is out today that a Hounslow development built in 2006 has been rendered so unsafe that all residents will be forced to move out with demolition possible.
Berkeley First – part of the Berkeley group – built the development alongside modular manufacturer Caledonian Building Systems. The entire development is now managed and owned by other organisations including Housing Association Notting Hill Genesis.
Berkeley and Caledonian have worked together on modular homes in Kidbrooke.
Berkeley First are predominantly, but not solely, involved in student accommodation across London and the UK. They have also built blocks for the University of Greenwich in Gillingham though to what extent modular buildings were used at other sites is not clear. It does also raise questions about quality control regardless of modular methods.
The article quotes “Matthew Biddle, managing director of Berkeley First”, who states:
“We had a contract that required the accommodation quickly.
So we developed a construction method that would allow us to build faster than usual. Because of the constrained site, it made sense to build off site.”
While modular construction is believed to play a role in Hounslow, it’s unclear to what degree. Modular construction has become increasing popular for new homes, with developments in places such as Lewisham incorporating the technique.
The Hounslow block has 688 student rooms, 105 shared ownership and 65 intermediate rent homes.
Residents now face moving out to other areas including hotels, breaking up local bonds and support networks with a consequent impact as 1000 homes are used for rehousing, reducing needed stock in the local area. Fewer homes for private renters and social homes are likely to result. The repercussions will be felt widely.