Pop-up Housing Could Cut London Rents by a Third

26/02/2016 12:28 | Updated 26 February 2016

Modern pop-up homes may just hold the key to solving London's housing crisis. They are of extremely high quality, are manufactured cheaply and can be constructed in a matter of weeks.

My new report, 'Pop-up Housing: A London Solution', suggests these kinds of high quality temporary homes could cut the cost of renting in the capital by a third.

Thousands of empty and disused sites across London could quickly become attractive residential plots with clean, spacious and modern homes.

'Modular housing', as it is known in the industry, has come a long way in recent decades and modern units are indistinguishable from homes built using more traditional methods.

My research found these flat-pack style homes meet and very often exceed the building standards and safety regulations of traditionally built houses.

Additionally, they can be produced at around half the cost and can take just a few weeks to fully construct.

One pop-up housing firm, Vanbrugh, which has built a project in Wolverhampton, provided some costings in the report for a theoretical project in London.

To build a housing estate consisting of 26 two-bed semis and 6 two-bed apartments, using traditional construction methods, would cost around £2.2m and take one year and two months.

Building the same estate using Vanbrugh pop-up housing would cost almost half a million pounds less and take just 24 weeks to complete.

The obvious benefits of building these high quality homes quicker and cheaper are that the savings are passed on to the consumer.

In Mitcham, pop-up apartments are being rented at £148 per week - almost a third less than the local average market value of £210 per week.

The construction methods also provide obvious attractions for self-builders who may have opportunities to develop individual plots of land.

Units can be made to fit the surrounding area - some even have the appearance of brickwork on the exterior - and can slot in seamlessly next to existing homes. They are also a sensible option for temporary and student accommodation.

Once we accept that these homes are a viable option to rapidly provide badly needed housing stock, the question is where to put them.

The London Land Commission recently identified space for 130,000 new homes on public land and previous reports have shown there is potential for at least 10,000 homes on small disused sites across the capital.

Why not utilise some of these spaces now by erecting high-quality, desirable homes that are genuinely affordable?

I have previously expressed the need to think outside the box when it comes to providing London's housing solutions.

Here we have an untapped goldmine of possibilities that could provide real homes for those that need them in a short space of time.

I passionately believe this could benefit London's housing market and I will be pushing the Mayor to promote pop-up housing to provide affordable alternatives to self-builders and renters.