Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why the Y:Cube Will Help Young Londoners; It's a First for London -- and These Hi-Tech, High-Spec Homes Cost Only PS30,000 to Build, Reports Philippa Stockley

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why the Y:Cube Will Help Young Londoners; It's a First for London -- and These Hi-Tech, High-Spec Homes Cost Only PS30,000 to Build, Reports Philippa Stockley

Article excerpt

Byline: Philippa Stockley

MITCHAM in south-west London is to get the UK's first development of "Y:Cube" homes -- designed by Richard Rogers to help the YMCA's efforts to house disadvantaged young people.

Y:Cube homes are first built and assembled in a factory before being slotted together in blocks on site. Merton's development will create 36 homes on a site owned by the YMCA, the UK's largest provider of supported accommodation for young people. The project provides a ray of hope that London's housing crisis might eventually be solved in an attractive and affordable way.

The one-bedroom homes will be let at 35 per cent of the market rent, which translates, in Merton, to PS140 a week. The first residents are set to move into their new homes in 12 months' time.

Built on a quarter-acre plot, the homes will be for single people who are former YMCA residents. But future developments will also offer homes to people on the local council's waiting list, both singles and couples.

TAXPAYER-FRIENDLY PLAN Lord Rogers's architecture practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, was charged with making prefab homes look and feel anything but dull.

The Y:Cube's high-spec, energy-efficient timber-and-cement panel design took seven years to develop and is a variant of the prototype Homeshell pre-assembled home first revealed by Homes & Property last summer.

The YMCA is finding independent funding for the Merton scheme, which means the project costs the taxpayer nothing. If the model is quickly rolled out, both in London and nationwide -- as the YMCA's director of housing Andy Redfearn hopes -- similar homes could be built for private buyers to invest in. The finances work so well that the homes can repay their investment in 10 years, excluding land costs. The unit cost is about PS30,000. Currently the YMCA is in talks with Kingston and Hillingdon councils about building more.

The Mitcham Y:Cubes will have green outside space, and are a 10-minute walk from the station. …

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