Swan showing the way forward

8th March, 2021

Geoff Pearce, Deputy Chief Executive at Swan Housing, told us about a busy 2021 ahead as its second factory gets ready to transform production of both its cross laminated timber (CLT) and steel frame-based homes.

Swan Housing was an early champion of offsite construction and one of the first housing associations to adopt these methods in order to create more high-quality, sustainable homes and thriving communities for those who need it most. “We are on an exciting journey with modular and offsite construction that offers an innovative solution to providing more high-quality homes in the UK,” says Geoff. “Since the opening of our own modular factory in 2017, we have welcomed over a thousand visitors to our factory (pre COVID-19) and in 2019 we launched a modular design guide to share knowledge, experiences and challenges that we faced developing our modular approach. Our factory is able to save 50% on time using the modular construction process, whilst saving 10% on cost. The factory is now able to complete the modules for a three bedroom home in around nine days.”

In October 2020, Swan announced the acquisition of a 15-year lease of Basildon 117, a newly built 116,841sq ft industrial unit, opposite their existing modular housing factory in Essex, to manufacture light gauge steel modular housing and operate alongside Swan’s existing cross laminated timber (CLT) volumetric system delivered in its current factory. The second factory was a key strategic move,” says Geoff. “It gives us additional capacity to build at height using a steel framed approach, while continuing to build houses in our existing CLT modular housing factory. The increased manufacturing space allows us to drive up quality and increase efficiencies by giving us more opportunity to use pre-manufacturing and componentisation.

“With the support of the Getting Building funding – which is accelerating the fit-out of our second factory – we will be able to support the wider UK efforts to ‘build back better’ for the communities in Essex and East London in which we operate, by creating over 120 jobs by the time the factory is in full production. Furthermore, we will be providing additional apprenticeships in the Basildon factories in order to allow more young people to learn modern construction methods within the manufacturing industry and help address the growing skills shortage.”

‘Factory 2’ will allow Swan to increase its production to up to 1,000 homes a year. This level of production will allow them to use additional capacity to supply offsite homes to London Boroughs and other registered provider partners who share Swan’s social purpose. “We see it as our role to help those like us,” says Geoff. “Those with a clear social purpose around affordable homes, in order to deliver on the requirements of the future affordable housing programmes from both Homes England and the Greater London Authority (GLA) requiring delivery of MMC housing from partners. Factory 2 will utilise a steel framed, fully volumetric approach, allowing us to produce modules which are fully-accredited and mortgageable for higher rise apartments in addition to our existing CLT homes.”

To read full article, go to Offsite Magazine issue 27!

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