4 October 2023
Praise stacks up for sustainable modular homes to help homeless families
A pioneering temporary housing scheme at Winnersh has been shortlisted for two regional awards
A state-of-the-art, energy efficient temporary accommodation site for homeless families in Wokingham Borough is in the running for two industry accolades.
The council's modular project at Grovelands Park in Winnersh has been shortlisted as Best Residential Development and Best Low Carbon Project in this year’s inaugural Royal Berkshire Property Awards.
The scheme comprises 23 furnished two-bedroom units, arranged in two storeys with their own entrances, allowing families to live safely and comfortably while awaiting somewhere permanent.
Each has its own toilet and bathroom with an open-plan lounge, dining room, kitchen and internet access, and one will be specially adapted for households where someone has a disability.
They replace 12 mobile homes at Grovelands, which had reached the end of their useful life and would not have been economical to refurbish.
A safe haven in tough times
The scheme is being completed in partnership with Edgingtons Architects and offers a cost-effective alternative to other types of temporary accommodation, like bed and breakfast placements which are sometimes outside the borough.
The first phase, consisting of six units, was completed last year and occupied shortly before Christmas, while the rest are on track for occupation by the end of the year.
All have stringent fire safety measures including an advanced “misting” system developed in partnership with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The units have environmentally-friendly features that give them the highest possible Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of A, including:
- Timber cladding and double glazing with modern, reliable heating systems
- Highly insulated walls and roofs to reduce energy usage
- Rooftop solar panels with energy storage
- Energy efficient appliances including washing machines, cookers and fridges
- Additional planting on site to improve biodiversity
- Air-source heat pumps in some units
As well as saving money, this will help the council meet its climate emergency commitments by reducing or absorbing carbon emissions.
Helping people and planet alike
Cllr Stephen Conway, leader of Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We're so pleased that our hard-working team and partners in this ambitious project have been given the recognition they deserve - and we're crossing our fingers for good news in a few weeks' time.
“As the cost of living crisis continues, we must remain able to help people affected by homelessness and offer security and dignity at a very distressing time. These new units help families to stay locally, preserving their links to friends, family, work and school while saving on more expensive bed and breakfast placements.”
Cllr Sarah Kerr, executive member for climate emergency and resident services, said: “As well as helping to preserve residents’ quality of life, we’re proud of this scheme’s exemplary energy-saving measures. They far exceed what the previous units had, and we will continue to aim for the highest possible standards of sustainability in everything we do.
“This is just part of our comprehensive approach to tackling the climate emergency, which includes everything from promoting active travel and providing the necessary infrastructure to encouraging recycling and waste reduction, preserving and improving our trees and green spaces, backing net-zero carbon construction and more.”
Hoping for good news
The winners of the awards will be announced at a ceremony at Reading Town Hall on Wednesday, 18 October. The Best Residential Development award is sponsored by Evoke Transport Planning while Best Low Carbon Project is sponsored by the Green Park business park.
Wokingham Borough Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has pledged to play as full a role as it can in making the borough carbon neutral by the end of the decade.
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