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Modular prefab schemes at risk from sceptical mortgage lenders

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The off-site manufacture of private modular homes may not be a solution to the UK's home shortage, as a prominent developer says it has experienced severe scepticism from mortgage lenders.

The problem comes just a year after the British insurance industry expressed its worries about fire risks in prefabricated buildings.

Urban Splash co-founder Tom Bloxham, who is pioneering prefabricated homes pitched to the Manchester privatehousing market, said there were real problems.

'There was initially some reluctance from mainstream mortgage lenders late last year, which was confounded by the impending publication of a report by the BRE, ' Bloxham told the AJ. 'The lenders wanted to see the report before they made any decision regarding the projects.' Urban Splash is finishing the landscaping on its private modular Moho scheme, designed by Liverpool-based architect shedkm, which consists of 102 apartments in the Castlefield district of Manchester.

'We had to teach the lenders that these structures are no different from any other steel frame building, ' continued Bloxham.

Prominent politicians such as planning minister Keith Hill have previously spoken out in favour of prefab housing.

But a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers has corroborated concerns regarding the long-term durability of modular homes. 'There are issues for insurers regarding the durability of these properties against fire, wind and flood, ' he said. 'One thing we would need to be happy with is that the materials are up to the job.' However, Keith Blanshard, director and general manager of Yorkon, which manufactured the Moho multi-storey steel flats, dismissed rumours that there is a long-term problem.

'The mortgage people didn't understand off-site fabrication, ' he said. 'People get nervous if they don't have the history or site knowledge. In fact, the material content is the same as any steel building.' A spokesman for the Council of Mortgage Lenders said:

'There were issues that need to be resolved.'

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