30th October Journal Column

Identity ConsultBy Andrew Milnes BSc MRICS, Associate Director, Identity Consult

You may have heard of pop-up restaurants or pop-up shops which are opened temporarily to take advantage of demand for a trend or product … well now they’ve introduced the pop-up village!

The UKs first pop-up village, designed by architect Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners on behalf of Lewisham Council, aims to be a solution to the homes shortage problem. The development will provide temporary homes for families and space for community and business use.

In the past year, Lewisham Council has seen an increase in the number of families placed in temporary accommodation to nearly 600, costing them nearly £3million, and so the village will be used to help meet the high demand for emergency housing for homeless people. However it will also contain a range of commercial and community uses to re-animate a brownfield site while long term regeneration plans are developed and thereby also solve a common problem that occurs with the majority of development sites, which sit unused while plans come together.

Once the site is developed, the blocks can be dismantled and moved, meaning the village can be reused over and over again. Even if we were given just one pop-up village per city, I’m sure we’d see huge improvements in housing figures.

Lewisham Council has appointed SIG Building Systems as its Principal Contractor, who in turn are working alongside North East leading Development Consultancy, Identity Consult. The project will immediately take 24 families out of B&Bs and assuming that every family has an average stay of one year, during the four years before they find permanent accommodation, then that will be almost 100 families that have benefited from the development. Pretty amazing if you ask me, so amazing that I must ask, when will it be coming to the North East?

The villages would be a huge help in the North East, they could be used to help get young people on the property ladder or be used to re-house those who need it, whilst they look for a more permanent solution.

The UK as a whole has previously struggled to build enough homes to meet the growing demand, frustrating potential home owners. But these reforms look set to solve an age-old problem that local authorities have failed to plan ahead for meaningful developments; although we still have the issue of delivery. The skills shortage in the industry means that builders are turning down projects and this problem will only get worse with an increased development demand. The pressure should ease knowing there could be a solution making its way to the North East to house families, whilst builders and the council attempt to meet the ever growing demand for new homes. Let’s hope a village ‘pops-up’ around the North East in the near future!