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Competition: Rotherham pod housing pilot

Y:Cube Mitcham by RSHP
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Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council is recruiting specialist housing suppliers for a new series of modular low-cost, single-person ‘pod’ homes

The team or teams chosen for the estimated £400,000 contract will harness modern methods of construction (MMC) to deliver a pilot programme of innovative affordable council houses which could be rolled out across the region on a larger scale if successful.

The contract is divided into two lots covering pilot sites at Vine Close and Chatham Street-Doncaster Gate where the local authority plans to deliver four and six new dwellings respectively. The chosen supplier or suppliers will design and install the new units while a separately appointed main contractor will prepare the sites.

In its brief, the council says it ‘has ambitions to significantly increase the number of new homes built in Rotherham. To help achieve this, the council is piloting the use of modern methods of construction as a swifter and more efficient way to deliver new homes.

‘The council is seeking tender returns from housing providers using MMC to deliver a pilot project which will consist of 10 small “pod” type homes for single-person households requiring affordable accommodation. This is identified as a pilot scheme which the council hopes to roll out as a larger programme, depending on the success of this pilot. The new homes will be added to council stock and will be developed on council land.’

Rotherham is a large former mining and steel town located immediately east of Sheffield in South Yorkshire. The larger Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham – which includes several other outlying towns – is home to around 260,000 people.

The local authority owns around 20,000 council homes across the area and announced plans in March to invest £50 million over the next three years in boosting the supply of new units.

The latest project will deliver 10 pilot pod homes across two tight urban sites. Each 22m² unit will be expected to feature a bedroom, living space and shower room.

Proposals will be expected to harness innovative design, building materials and construction methods to deliver ‘excellent value for money’ homes which maximise thermal comfort and reduce fuel poverty.

The outcomes of the pilot programme are expected to be shared with other social housing providers within the wider Sheffield City Region.

The pilot project comes three years after RSHP and SIG Building Systems completed a series of 26m² one-bed pod studios (pictured) for YMCA London South West. More recent modular pod housing systems include Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II.

The deadline for applications is 26 September.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information

Contact details

Clair Brierley
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Riverside House
Main Street
S60 1AE

Tel: +44 1709334046
Email: clair.brierley@rotherham.gov.uk



Tom Bell, assistant director of housing for Rotherham Council

Tom Bell

Tom Bell

Tom Bell

Why are you inviting housing suppliers to deliver a new £400,000 pod pilot?

Rotherham Council has an ambitious housing growth programme and is exploring a wide range of ways of delivering more affordable housing, to meet the borough’s housing needs and replace Council stock lost through the Right to Buy. We are excited about the pod pilot for a number of reasons, but particularly the potential time savings and efficiencies compared with traditional delivery, and the high quality and thermal comfort levels that can be achieved through modular construction.

These pods will be for single person households. The Council owns and manages around 20,500 homes, and while 71% of people on the Housing Register require a one bedroom property, only 25% of our stock is one bedroomed. The Government’s introduction of the bedroom tax and other welfare reform measures mean that the demand for smaller, affordable and cheaper to heat accommodation has never been higher. While this pilot will deliver a relatively modest number – ten pods – if successful it could be scaled up to a larger programme.

What is your vision for the new social housing which will be delivered?

The two sites selected for the pilot are both in highly visible, town centre locations. One of the sites is 0.09 hectares, where we are seeking four units, and the other is 0.076 hectares and we believe capable of delivering six. The latter is adjacent to the brand new University Campus and we will be expecting to see innovation and flair in the design to complement this.

High quality is essential hence the bids will be evaluated based on 70% quality / 30% cost. The project specification has offered guidance on what we would like from finishes but we didn’t want to stifle innovation by being overly prescriptive. We welcome both contemporary and more traditional aesthetics; suppliers need to be mindful of the sites and their surroundings when considering design.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We have selected this procurement route, i.e. going out to Open Tender, to ensure that no smaller companies are excluded from the opportunity to showcase their products and services, which would be the case had we used one of the major construction frameworks. We have worked in partnership with Build Offsite to harness their expertise in the world of offsite construction and recently held a well-attended ‘meet the buyer’ event to allow potential bidders to network and ask questions.

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