Modular house

Micro-homes for a macro-problem?


Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is planning to purchase movable micro homes for families needing temporary accommodation in the borough. In a report to the Strategy & Resource Committee on 26th January, officers stated that demand in the borough for temporary accommodation is acute. They plan initially to purchase three family micro homes at a cost of £435,000. The homes, which boast exceptional energy efficiency, will be constructed off site and craned into position. They have a 50 to 60 year life span, come fully furnished and can be moved to another site if required. Several councils, from Cornwall in the west to Southend in the east, have already developed schemes with similar units.

Subject to planning permission, which will be applied for in the next three months, the units will be located on a brownfield site near the Kiln Lane Sainsbury’s. The Council has already secured a £75,000 grant from the Brownfield Land Relief Fund to assist with the preparation of the site for development.

The report was greeted with enthusiasm by councillors. “It looks a progressive and radical solution,” said Councillor Alan Williamson (RA, West Ewell Ward), “and it’s to be commended. I would like to see this as the basis for further developments in the borough.”

The interest was so great that one officer suggested arranging some tours before the homes are occupied.

Councillor Kate Chinn (Labour, Court Ward) was also wholehearted in her support. “Anything that stops families being separated, moving out of the borough, being able to remain with their support networks is fabulous,” she said.

After the meeting the Council issued a press release confirming:

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council has submitted a planning application to create three new temporary homes to house local families at risk of homelessness.

The proposal is in response to the acute demand for temporary accommodation in the borough, particularly for family-sized homes. It forms an important contribution to the Council’s recently launched Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, which includes the objective to increase accommodation options in the borough including temporary accommodation.

The proposal makes use of brownfield land alongside Fairview Road in Epsom and was approved by the Strategy & Resources Committee on Thursday 26 January. The proposal will now go through the due planning process and if approved, work will start in March 2023.

Alongside providing life-changing support to the families who will make use of the homes, investment in the properties will lead to savings for the Council over time, as the cost of the development is offset by rental income and a reduction in the need for expensive nightly paid accommodation. The Council has also been successfully awarded funding of £75,000 from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Brownfield Land Relief Fund, to be invested in this project.

The homes are pre-fabricated and built offsite to provide an innovative, attractive and low-cost housing solution. They are at the forefront of energy efficient design and provide safe, welcoming spaces for families.

Cllr Neil Dallen, Chair of the Strategy & Resources Committee, said: “I am delighted that this key project has been approved by Committee, and that its importance has been emphasised by the level of funding we have received from central government. The impact of homelessness cannot be underestimated, and increasing temporary accommodation provision for local families will have a positive impact not only on those being housed, but on the borough as a whole.

“This will now progress through the planning process and we will await the outcome with interest.”

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