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Modular Build to Rent scheme gets underway

Construction of a unique south London housing scheme has got underway in a factory in Shropshire.

The modular construction by Elements Europe, a modular specialist, will see 249 homes developed for rent in Greenwich, with each module completed within seven days.

Partnered with Essential Living, the Creekside Wharf development will be one of the first Build to Rent schemes developed this way.


Elements has more than a decade’s experience creating hotels, housing for sale and purpose built student housing. From the 200,000 sq ft Telford-based factory, Elements will send 632 modules to Creekside Wharf - at a rate of 20 a week - from February 2017.

“Modular solutions have been used for many years throughout the hotel and student accommodation sectors and our entry into the build to rent market is just a natural progression, bringing homes forward sooner, reducing capital construction costs, and improving the quality and safety of delivery,” said Simon Underwood, managing director at Elements Europe.

The steel-framed modules will fit around the scheme’s concrete core in order to give the project lateral stability while the stacked modules carry its weight back to the ground – exactly the same as a conventional office block.

Elements will use traditional construction methods in a controlled factory environment where 60% of the total work is carried out, with a view to halving the time spent on site to 32 weeks. This strategy should allow the development to be finished more quickly since modules can be completed while works begin onsite, according to Russell Pedley, director of Assael Architecture, which designed the Creekside Wharf project.

He explained: “Offsite methods are ideally suited to build to rent, offering faster delivery, higher energy efficiency and complementing a longer term outlook not constrained by the absorption rates of build for sale.” 

At 23 storeys tall, Creekside Wharf will also be one of the tallest modular buildings in the UK. The scheme will also be the first in the country to cater for families, with buggy storage, acoustic noise insulation and an on-site nursery for parents with young children.

Ray Theakston, construction director at Essential Living, said: “We’re pleased to be able to appoint Elements, veterans of the modular world, on what promises to be an innovative scheme in Greenwich. Having the potential to collect rent six months earlier than a traditional build is appealing. This is achievable because you can commence work on the modules off site at the same time as constructing the traditional concrete core on site - which the steel-framed modules then plug into.

“We’re creating a portfolio of 5,000 rental homes across London and the South East. Modular may well play a role in some of our future schemes, but it’s important to stress that we remain committed to working with traditional contractors who will continue to play a key role in delivering our projects.”

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    I am old enough to remember when the London Borough of Greenwich demolished the wartime prefabs, in fact I am old enough to remember when they were built! Modular construction is not new but high rise modular construction is a newish concept.
    High rise social housing has proved to be a disaster with many high rise blocks now being demolished, how long will these new modules survive?


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