Light Gauge Steel homes racing ahead on Sunderland affordable housing scheme
10th December 2020
Over a quarter of new homes on the College Grange development will be made from light gauge steel structures.
At a time where there is a national shortage of affordable housing, the use of light gauge steel in construction can go a long way to help reduce the shortage due to its enviable assembly speed, reduced build time, environmentally friendly features and quality control benefits.”
Homes being built on a new development in Sunderland will be completed in half the time of traditional construction methods.
Esh Construction has teamed up with ORCA to build 30 light gauge steel frame homes on behalf of housing association Karbon Homes, at the College Grange development in North Hylton.
College Grange is being delivered by Esh’s affordable housing division for Karbon Homes. The scheme will provide 105 different sized family homes and bungalows for a mix of Rent to Buy and Affordable Rent, and over a quarter of the new homes are being built using light gauge steel (LGS) structures.
LGS structures are formed from cold-rolled high tensile steel coils which are 100 per cent recyclable – exceeding the Code for Sustainable Homes standards. This form of building provides tighter accuracy and quality control, with structures cut to precision it reduces material waste and improves productivity on site. LGS is faster to build with, stronger, lighter, sustainable, and non-combustible. In comparison to traditional build methods, LGS offers cost savings up to 20% and on average reduces build time 50%.
ORCA, a leading Modern Method of Construction specialist, has developed a manufacturing system unlocking access to faster, higher quality and more efficient ways to deliver projects locally. The 30 units were designed and manufactured at their North Shields HUB utilising ORCA’s 3D design and printing technology.
The LGS for each home is manufactured offsite in one day, delivered to the construction site using a just in time approach, installed and made weathertight to accelerate the overall construction programme.
Using light gauge steel as a Modern Method of Construction (MMC) is at the forefront of innovation within the housing sector and the importance of its use in affordable housing has been emphasised in recent announcements from the government’s housing agency, Homes England.
Following the recently launched £12billion Affordable Homes programme – the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade – Homes England is clear that partners delivering these new homes will be expected to focus on promoting significant use of MMC.
In a recent statement, Simon Dudley, Interim Chair at Homes England, said: “We will prioritise the use of MMC to increase productivity. Increasing innovation within the sector is central to our mission.” Homes England will be responsible for almost £7.5billion of the investment to deliver up to 130,000 affordable homes from 2021 to 2026.
Esh Construction’s Divisional Director, Gary Dobson, said: “At a time where there is a national shortage of affordable housing, the use of light gauge steel in construction can go a long way to help reduce the shortage due to its enviable assembly speed, reduced build time, environmentally-friendly features, and quality control benefits.
“As a Homes England investment partner, we welcome the proactive approach to using MMC within affordable housing developments and it is encouraging to see this method being used for 30 properties on the Karbon Homes scheme in North Hylton, Sunderland. With over £80m of new build schemes currently live or due to commence within our affordable housing division, we look forward to utilising MMC more in our delivery and further developing the relationship with ORCA.”
John-Paul Fraser, CEO at ORCA said: “It’s fantastic to be working with Esh on this project to utilise ORCA’s technology in line with government strategy. 2021 looks set to be the year for disruption, with the housing industry recognising the potential that offsite manufacturing holds for the UK’s housing market. ORCA’s mission is to accelerate the delivery of affordable homes across the UK by giving local businesses access to MMC. With 25% of the development being delivered using LGS, it’s promising for the adoption of MMC and great that Esh and Karbon Homes are driving change to improve how projects are delivered.”
Sarah Robson, Development Director at Karbon Homes, said: “We’re really pleased with how the College Grange site is developing. We are starting to use a lot more MMC techniques to deliver our development programme, and the speed and quality of the work we’ve seen to date have been very encouraging. Adding together this project, alongside a further eight sites in our programme, recently completed, on site or with planning in place, and Karbon Homes and its partners are delivering well over 300 homes in Sunderland.”
Designed by IDPartnership Architects, College Grange is located on the site of the former Sunderland College buildings in North Hylton. Karbon has worked with Sunderland City Council and Homes England to bring the scheme to fruition, with support from Portland Consulting Engineers and Elliott Associates.