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Work starts on Council’s innovative housing site

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Work has begun to transform a derelict former industrial site near Pool into a landmark modular housing development to help residents threatened with homelessness. 

Cornwall Council’s principal contractor, Cormac, is in the process of clearing the site at Cowlins Mill, Penhallick Road, Carn Brea, ready for the installation of 10 state-of-the-art one-bedroom modular homes.

Work begins in the factory. Picture: Premier Modular

Work begins in the factory. Picture: Premier Modular

They will be used as ‘move-on’ accommodation to support people on their journey towards settled, permanent, homes. 

The innovative project - which is the first of its kind for the Council – is being led by the Housing Delivery and Development Team, with plans for two more sites elsewhere in Cornwall also progressing. 

How the site will look

How the site will look

Olly Monk, the Council’s portfolio holder for housing and planning, said: “This development is part of our strategy to make sure that nobody need sleep rough in Cornwall and I am really pleased to see work has started in earnest. 

“The use of temporary schemes such as the single-berth cabins in Truro and Penzance, which began during the pandemic and we are now expanding with sites at New County Hall and in Camborne, gave us the time to implement permanent projects like this and our hostel-type facility in Truro. 

“The redevelopment of Cowlins Mill is a key scheme that will offer excellent accommodation to those in the greatest need while we support them to find longer-term homes. 

“This is just one part of the jigsaw as we continue to work hard to address the housing need across Cornwall.”

Work has begun to clear the site

Work has begun to clear the site

Paying homage to the area’s industrial and mining heritage, the Council-owned scheme will see former workshops and offices converted into management, meeting and recreation space, and a pedestrian walkway from the site to Pool will be created. 

At the heart of the site will be the 10 modular homes, designed and supplied by multi-award-winning modular provider, Zed Pods 

These are in the process of being manufactured by Zed Pods in a factory in Yorkshire before being delivered to the site later in the autumn. 

The homes are permanent structures, built to a mortgageable standard, and are supplied with a new build warranty. 

The new development of net-zero-carbon housing – another first for the Council – will celebrate the site’s heritage while providing top-quality accommodation, akin to a modern apartment, available for social rent. 

An example of how a bedroom inside the new homes will look

An example of how a bedroom inside the new homes will look

The new homes are designed to have the lowest possible running costs and come with living, kitchen and dining space in an open-plan layout, along with a separate bedroom and shower room. 

They will be heated and supplied with hot water via a solar-assisted heat pump and solar panels will also help to offset energy consumption. 

Zed Pods chairman, Tom Northway, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Council on their first net zero carbon housing project, providing excellent quality homes for its most vulnerable residents.” 

Key elements of the site’s history are being carefully preserved, including turning some of the former workshops into new walled gardens and restoring an arched stained-glass window and converting it into a clock to be mounted on the front of the new communal building.  

Other materials from the site will be incorporated into the significant planting and landscaping in the wider grounds. 

The project is being supported by funding from the Government's Next Steps Accommodation Programme, which backs work to provide move-on accommodation for former rough sleepers and other single homeless people. 

Work begins in the factory. Picture: Premier Modular

Work begins in the factory. Picture: Premier Modular

The new modular homes are due to be ready for occupation in December. 

Tackling current housing pressures is a top priority for the Council. 

The Council is also:  

  • Providing hundreds of temporary and emergency accommodation places so local people can be housed without worrying about being asked to leave at a moment’s notice 
  • Buying and refurbishing existing homes to use as social housing 
  • Ensuring sites deliver affordable housing through the planning process 
  • Building more Council houses as well as affordable homes for local people to rent or buy 
  • Unlocking the potential for town centres to be regenerated to provide more housing 
  • Offering loans to bring empty homes back into use 

Story posted on September 22, 2021

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