UK’s first modular Build to Rent takes root in Greenwich

August 25, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
UK’s first modular Build to Rent takes root in Greenwich

Modular construction is now underway in a Shropshire factory to create a development of 249 homes for rent in south London.

Essential Living has announced an exclusive partnership with Elements Europe, a modular specialist, to deliver its Creekside Wharf scheme in Greenwich. It is one the first Build to Rent schemes being built this way and each module can be completed within seven days.

Elements will send 632 modules to Creekside Wharf – at a rate of 20 a week – from February 2017.

The steel-framed modules will fit around the scheme’s concrete core. This gives the project lateral stability while the stacked modules carry its weight back to the ground – exactly the same as a conventional office block.

Elements uses traditional construction methods in a controlled factory environment where 60 per cent of the total work is carried out. It will halve the time spent on site to 32 weeks.

Offsite construction brings a number of benefits for build to rent operators. Developments can be finished more quickly since modules can be completed while works begin onsite. This means rent can be collected earlier.

Enhanced energy efficiency and the ability to refurbish buildings more easily also makes off-site construction attractive.

At 23 storeys tall, Creekside Wharf will also be one of the tallest modular buildings in the UK.

“Having the potential to collect rent six months earlier than a traditional build is appealing,” said Ray Theakston, construction director at Essential Living. “This is achievable because you can commence work on the modules off site at the same time as constructing the traditional concrete core on site – which the steel-framed modules then plug into.”

Simon Underwood, managing director at Elements Europe, added, “Modular solutions have been used for many years throughout the hotel and student accommodation sectors and our entry into the build to rent market is just a natural progression, bringing homes forward sooner, reducing capital construction costs, and improving the quality and safety of delivery.”

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