Cornwall Council has entered into a landmark deal to buy SoloHaus ‘micro homes’ to help tackle the housing crisis.
A total of 29 self-contained modular one-bedroom homes have arrived in Cornwall and are set to be deployed to sites in the coming months.
The Council has bought the homes from The Hill Group, based in Waltham Abbey, Essex. SoloHaus, the brainchild of Hill Group founder, Andy Hill, have been designed to provide exceptional self-contained accommodation in a supported environment for homeless individuals.
Cornwall Council joins Cambridge City Council, Ipswich Borough Council, the London Borough of Haringey and several housing associations in the east of England in using SoloHaus to support those that need it.
Olly Monk, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning at Cornwall Council, said: “This marks a real tipping point in this Council’s approach to solving the housing crisis. The opportunity to buy these units was only identified at the end of August and officers have worked extremely hard over a very short period to turn this around.
“These homes are ready to be dropped onto sites and provide top-quality accommodation, with all fixtures and fittings included. They are an evolution of the cabin-style emergency accommodation that we have provided in Truro and Camborne and, over time, will remove the need for those type of pods, which we have leased.
“Buying and deploying permanent quality modular homes such as these will allow us to put homes in key locations throughout the Duchy. This is about us recognising that there are people in our communities that really need our help, and us providing them with an exceptional quality housing solution that can be deployed quickly.
An existing SoloHaus development in Cambridge
“This is another example of what we’re doing to prevent using insecure B&B-style accommodation for vulnerable people. It’s about treating those people that need our help with dignity and respect.
“Alongside everything else we’re doing – such as buying and refurbishing disused properties, purchasing homes at new developments and building innovative new ‘move-on’ sites – they will play a vital role in making sure that nobody need sleep rough in Cornwall or have to be housed in unreliable B&B or hotel accommodation.
“I very much hope that this is the first batch of many SoloHaus units for us in Cornwall.”
The homes are built in a factory in Shrewsbury and feature the highest standards of sustainability, efficiency, safety and durability. They can be easily transported on a lorry and the Council will be working with Cormac to deploy the new homes to sites throughout the Duchy.
SoloHaus homes are well-placed to help solve the housing crisis in Cornwall as they are designed to be robust enough to be deployed on a permanent basis, while retaining the flexibility to be picked up and moved from site-to-site for short-term use if necessary.
With a 60-year minimum lifespan and construction warranty, they have been designed with the help of leading homelessness charities to provide a safe, secure, comfortable and independent place to stay for people who are homeless or have been homeless in the recent past.
SoloHaus units are provided fully furnished with a kitchen, living and dining area, bedroom and bathroom.
They are built to an attractive, Building Control-approved design and can be used in either a single storey or two-storey arrangement, with minimal groundworks, needing only electric, water and waste connections. They have integrated cabling for broadband and TV and a single air source heat pump provides warmth for six homes.
Andy Hill, group chief executive at Hill, said: “We’re thrilled to be supporting Cornwall Council’s efforts to reduce homelessness at a time of major pressure on the housing market.
“We designed the SoloHaus units to be safe, high-quality homes for some of the most vulnerable people in society and we hope that Cornwall residents will enjoy living in them.”
Tackling current housing pressures is a top priority for the Council. The Council is also continuing work to:
- Buy homes for social housing
- Build more Council houses
- Support the provision of more affordable homes by housing associations for local people to rent or buy
- Ensure sites deliver affordable housing through the planning process
- Unlock the potential for town centres to be regenerated to provide more housing
- Support community-led organisations that want to deliver their own homes
- Offer loans to bring empty homes back into use
Hill Group designed and created the SoloHaus modular home as part of its Foundation 200 programme, launched in 2019 to mark its 20th anniversary. Foundation 200 is a pledge to deliver 200 SoloHaus homes to homelessness charities as part of a £15m social impact fund, providing safe, comfortable, sustainable homes to single people experiencing periods of homelessness.
Since the foundation was launched, and with demand increasing significantly across the country, Hill invested in two production facilities and is now marketing SoloHaus for general, UK-wide sales.
Story posted on January 11, 2022