Housing

Council Turns to Prefabs to Build Homes for Homeless Families

Reading Council starts work on 28 prefabricated homes as temporary accommodation for homeless families

The prefabs famously provided emergency housing for soldiers returning to bomb-ruined Britain after the war.

Attracted to the speedy, assembly-line approach to house-building, a growing number of local authorities are taking prefabs seriously once again as a way of meeting today’s acute housing shortage.

Work began this week on a new scheme to provide temporary housing for homeless families in Reading, west of London. Council bosses there have approved a plan for 28 prefabricated homes to be craned in and installed on a former mobile home park in the Caversham area.

Councillor Richard Davies, Reading Borough Council’s lead member for housing, said it was a good way of cutting down on the number of families forced to use bed and breakfast accommodation, which he described as particularly “unsuitable and disruptive” for children.

“Reading, along with many other towns and cities in the region, has seen an increase in the number of families requiring emergency housing,” said Councillor Davies.

These low cost units will reduce the cost of providing B&B accommodation for the Council.

“These innovative and low cost units will provide families with comfortable and modern temporary homes and reduce the cost of providing B&B accommodation for the Council.”

The local authority development will be made up of two-storey blocks clad in timer, with each home having two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and living room. There will also be a bike shed, kids’ play area and small car park on the site.

The scheme did gather objections from local people who feared the idea of “undesirable characters” coming to the area.

But the council insisted growing levels of need makes provision of new accommodation essential. Councillor Davis said some families are “in urgent need of help” and the council need to find “innovative” ways to get building.

In 2015/16 Reading was provided emergency housing for 309 individuals or families. Figures released by the borough council last year showed over 22,000 people on the council house waiting list.

Photo: Reading Borough Council

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