On Monday, two newly built homes will be officially opened. There may be nothing unique about the occasion which is being organised by Lewes District Council and the KSD Group, but the homes in Lambert Place in Lewes town could herald a revolution in the supply of homes that offer truly affordable rents.
Little has excited me as much as these homes. The scheme has already been shortlisted for the UK Housing Excellence Awards.
These two bedroomed homes, which were developed by the Brighton-based KSD Group, will be offered at rents of just £95 per week which is half the Local Housing Allowance rates for Lewes. (The LHA is calculated at the 30th centile of the range of similar homes in a locality).
The development has been made possible by a creative partnership between Lewes District Council and KSD. It demonstrates just what is possible if there is the political will and the creativity of the private sector organisation.
I take my hat off and applauded both Lewes District Council and KSD. They are showing the way forward.
If I was a local councillor and my officers were not beating down the door of KSD inviting them into their area, I would question whether the officers were doing their job.
When BHT developed our shipping container homes with our partner, QED, we were inundated by approaches from London Boroughs. But, shockingly, other than Brighton and Hove City Council and Worthing Borough Council, no other Sussex council showed any interest whatsoever. (Lewes District Council can be excused because of the Lambert Place development that they were planning with KSD).
In our case, with QED, we brought in to management 36 studio flats that required no public subsidy. What is there not to like if you are a local authority other than innovations such as these challenging their traditional and struggling model of housing development that increasingly focuses on large housing association that are failing to meet the needs of local people wanting to rent at truly affordable levels.
The KSD homes in Lewes are sustainable and eco-friendly, meeting a minimum Code Level 4, Sustainable Code for Housing.
The light gauge steel construction uses 95% materials which are recyclable and the construction costs are 30% to 50% lower than traditional methods of construction. Both houses meet lifetime standards and all of the design codes that are required.
In addition to the amazing rent levels, it takes between six and 10 weeks to build a typical two bed house.
“But what is the catch?”, I hear you ask. “They must be tiny, like shoeboxes”.
The homes at Lambert Place on 98m², which is much larger than your average social housing home and larger than the Parker Morris Standard.
There is a catch. The land has been provided by the local authority at no cost. KSD are supplying the homes at no cost and there is a 25 year lease agreement based on 100% nomination rights to the council.
The development is debt free and requires no grant or bank finance. KSD and Lewes DC each own 50% of the project.
I recently wrote on this blog that I did not expect to see social housing as we knew it return in my professional life time. Well, this development proves me wrong. I am full of admiration for KSD and Lewis DC. The houses are amazing. I think we are seeing the future.