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Partners to build another 109 modular homes in Wiltshire and Dorset

An innovative partnership has agreed to create more than 100 modern, energy-efficient new homes for people in the South West.

Published 18 May 2023

An innovative partnership has agreed to create more than 100 modern, energy-efficient new homes for people in the South West.

Housing association Magna, Wiltshire Council and Dorset-based manufacturer Rollalong joined forces last year to tackle the housing crisis using modular building methods. They have pledged to build nearly 1,000 new affordable homes by 2026.

Magna and Wiltshire have now taken another step towards that goal by placing orders for Rollalong to manufacture 109 new, modular homes for five sites across two counties.

The partners have used their joint purchasing power to get better value under a money-saving framework created by the South West Procurement Alliance (SWPA).

Magna will make 26 of the homes available for affordable rent or shared ownership in Dorset. They will include 14 at Webber's Piece in Maiden Newton and 12 at the site of the former Royal Manor Arts College on Portland, adding to the 29 Rollalong has already manufactured for the 41-home development.

In Wiltshire, the council will create a further 83 new affordable homes across three sites within the county.

Rollalong uses precision engineering techniques to manufacture high-quality modern homes as modules in its factory near Wimborne Minster. These are then transported, fully fitted with kitchens, bathrooms and electrics, to sites where they will become attractive, energy efficient homes.

Modular manufacturing has potential to deliver much-needed new homes faster and more sustainably than traditional brick housebuilding. Overall, the process generates less waste and has a lower carbon footprint. It also creates less disruption to local people, with fewer deliveries to site over a shorter time.

The partners' latest range of modular house types are built to be 'net zero in use', in line with the Government's proposed Future Homes Standard, which will require new homes built from 2025 to produce 75-80% less carbon. The all-electric homes will be heated by air-source heat pumps, with a thermally efficient fabric retaining warmth and helping residents keep their energy bills lower.

The homes can be tailored to the local, often rural setting, with a range of house types and finishes influenced by customer feedback. The partners also have the only modular approach in the UK accredited by the National Housing-Building Council (NHBC) able to 'step and stagger' terraces of houses so that they have more visual variety.

Magna and Rollalong have already completed 32 new modular homes across sites in Sherborne, Chickerell and Dorchester.

Tony and his husband Kevin recently moved in to their new, rented, modular home at Eddison Avenue in Dorchester. Tony said:

"We're so happy in our home. We're warmer than we have been in years. We absolutely love it and cannot believe how lucky we are." 

Cllr Phil Alford, Cabinet Member for Housing at Wiltshire Council, said: 

"We're delighted to continue our positive and hugely productive partnership with Magna and Rollalong.

"The houses are built in the most innovative and efficient way, resulting in quality affordable homes for Wiltshire residents, which is a key mission of our business plan.

"Our aim as a council to build 1,000 affordable over a ten-year period is really gathering momentum and we're committed to successfully achieving that for our communities."

Paul Read, Magna's Director of Sustainability and Investment, said:

"These are among the most important new homes Magna has delivered, with our ambition to build the right homes of the right quality in the right places. By collaborating with others and modernising how we build, we are creating homes for local people that will help address the cost of living, energy challenges and contribute towards the UK's net zero targets.

"Thanks to Government retrofit funding, we also have the opportunity to decarbonise our existing homes, including those neighbouring the new, modular houses at Webbers Piece. These older homes will benefit from external wall insulation, new windows and doors, and air-source heat pumps. The timing means we can look at creating a real sense of place in this rural community."

Steve Chivers, Managing Director of Rollalong, said:

"We are delighted to have been awarded this latest contract by Magna Housing and Wiltshire Council to design and build a further 109 modular homes under the partnership.

"The aim of our innovative partnership is to deliver almost 1,000 high-quality, affordable, Net Zero-ready future homes in the South West using a local workforce and local suppliers.

"Manufacturing homes offsite in modules is the future for our industry, and our unique partnership provides the volumes we need to make these modern methods of construction work.

"These are the homes of the future designed for living today, and we're pleased to have the opportunity to promote the benefits of modular housing as a response to a nationwide housing crisis."

Mary Bennell, Director of SWPA, said:

"We have worked closely with Magna and Wiltshire Council to provide the innovative procurement solutions required to meet their housing aspirations.

"We were especially proud to support the project by developing a detailed easy to use methodology for assessing the social value outputs at an individual project level for both clients."

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