£20m innovative housing fund is an opportunity for sustainable housing in Wales

Innovation and sustainability are key to a Welsh Government plan to build 20,000 homes in Wales as part of an innovative housing scheme.

The government set out its plans back in February to attract ideas for building homes that are innovative and significantly reduce or eliminate fuel bills.

Currently, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), demand for new homes in Wales is outstripping supply. The Communities Minister, Carl Sargeant AM, announced a £20million fund to contribute to the building of innovative homes as part of the 20,000 he wants before the next Assembly election.

This is an opportunity for private developers, housing asscoiations, local councils and architects to bring forward new ways of creating sustainable and cost effective homes. From using locally sourced materials, such as Welsh timber, to energy efficient methods and techniques within the design.

The two year fund sets out a criteria that states homes eligible under the fund must:

  • be deliverable quickly
  • be affordable and meet housing need
  • create jobs and training opportunities, supporting Welsh businesses wherever possible
  • significantly reduce or erase fuel bills and carbon emissions
  • be healthy and comfortable to live in, reflecting the needs of the occupant
  • be made of a certain quality

Mr Sargeant said: “I’m looking for new ideas, new ways of doing things, both in terms of what we build and how we build them. We need to start looking at more innovation, at homes that can be built faster as panels in factories or whole units delivered to site on lorries. We need to look at what homes are made from and what else they offer in terms of fuel bills, carbon emissions, jobs.

“Building homes delivers important benefits beyond simply putting a roof over people’s heads. Alongside the well-documented health and education benefits that good quality housing provides for children and families, building homes of all tenures has a significant positive impact on the Welsh economy and on our communities.We can use the Welsh supply chain to unlock massive opportunities for growth and innovation in housing.”

Our team have been looking into the fund and the plans which are an opportunity for architects and building design specialists like ourselves, to work together to bring forward much needed housing in Wales.

Working from our offices in Newtown and Welshpool in Powys, Aberystwyth in Ceredigion, and our new Cardiff base, we’re well placed to understand the needs of the housing market and the methods for innovative designs – many of which we already implement into home that we are designing and planning with existing clients that range from private individuals to developers, housing associations and local councils.

We’re looking forward to working with such people to consider the opportunities for the fund, as well as organisations like Wood Knowledge Wales, that are spearheading the use of locally sourced and sustainable Welsh timber in housing and building projects.

Photos: A housing development dwsigned by Hughes Architects under construction (top, right) and Welsh Government Communities Minister, Carl Sargeant AM (bottom, right)