14 September 2021

Innovative factory-built affordable housing scheme welcomes first tenants in the London Borough of Havering

YMCA Thames Gateway Group, covering Essex, Kent and London, has officially opened its innovative new housing development, solving an affordable move-on accommodation problem its residents have long faced.

Designed by renowned architecture practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), and engineered and manufactured off-site by AECOM, the affordable accommodation scheme, located behind the YMCA in Rush Green Road, Romford, is a huge step forward for the organisation.

The 39-unit Park View development has been designed for people leaving Thames Gateway’s hostel and supported housing accommodation, and apartments are being rented out at around 80 per cent of the market rate in the area.

Dave Ball, Chief Executive of YMCA Thames Gateway Group, said: “This innovative method of construction presents a new way of creating affordable, aspirational housing for those wanting to take their next step towards independent living. Having the right team in place to manage the project was vital to its success.

“In the London Borough of Havering, we have long struggled with reasonably priced accommodation for our residents who are ready to leave the hostel, and with this new development, built on our existing land, we have made huge headway with this.”

From the very start of the project, Modular Building Consultants were on hand to provide pre-construction support. They led on tendering, project management & carried out the employer’s agent role.

Ivan Harbour, Senior Design Partner for Park View at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said: “Park View offers compact, self-contained homes within a small community. Generous, high quality, spaces with exceptional insulation, daylight and acoustics have been achieved through the use of rapid and cost-effective volumetric technology, a more sustainable and equitable approach to house building that we will be seeing much more of in the future.”

Furthermore, Andrew Partridge, Associate Partner and Project Architect for Park View at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said: “It’s wonderful working with YMCA again. They understand their clients so well. Park View is a great initiative in independent living accommodation. Delivered using off-site technology, the scheme is well designed, energy efficient and offers spacious homes.”

The 39 Park View units were all constructed off-site in Derbyshire before being transported to Essex. Installation of the three-storey building started in July 2020, following months of preparation, and the last home was lifted into place in January 2021. Battling with the consequences of a global pandemic added some delays to the development, but in July, 39 residents moved into Park View from the Romford hostel…and 39 new residents moved into the hostel!

Along with investment from YMCA Thames Gateway reserves, the Park View development was funded with a capital grant of £2.81m from the GLA’s London Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21 and a £1.43m loan from Charity Bank.

Paul Oshodin, 27, is one of the first tenants to move into Park View. Born in Nigeria, Paul came to the UK with his aunt when he was 11, after the sudden death of his mother. After a turbulent five years, Paul’s aunt returned to Nigeria, leaving him alone in the UK aged just 16.

Between the ages of 16 and 18, feeling scared of social services finding out he was alone and would be deported as a result, Paul did what he could to look after himself. Sofa surfing, sleeping in parks and shop doorways, and doing any job he could for a little bit of money, Paul eventually went to Connexions for some help, initially to find work. However, the case worker he met there, a man called Rob, realized that all was not as well Paul made out so, once Paul had confessed his situation to Rob, the journey of support for Paul began.

Fast forward to 2017, Paul was offered housing in YMCA Romford and has been working to move his life forward since then.

Paul said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect but the YMCA gave me stability, which was invaluable for me – having a roof over my head has made all the difference. If I hadn’t found the YMCA I don’t know where I would be, genuinely. It changed my life – I’m not even trying to be cliché – it really did.

“Moving into Park View has given me another push – I don’t want to take anything away from my room in the hostel but this is different. I have my own kitchen, I can cook for myself, I can be with other people if I choose to be but can spend time on my own.