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Prescott's £60,000 House Challenge: Nine Winners Prove It Can Be Done

Nine organisations have defied sceptics and risen to the challenge laid down by the Deputy Prime Minister, demonstrating that high quality homes can be designed for a construction cost of around £60,000.

These nine consortia are now invited to go on to the final stage of the Design for Manufacture competition, to bid to develop homes on one or more of the ten public sector-owned sites. A further seven entrants received a commendation for their entries.

The Design for Manufacture competition is being managed by English Partnerships, the Government's regeneration agency, on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The competition is one part of the Government's progress in delivering decent, affordable homes for everyone - whether to rent or buy - in sustainable communities where they are proud to live.

The ODPM's planning reforms are resulting in more efficient use of land so the 1.1m homes needed in the wider south east can be built on less land than the previous government set aside for just 900,000 homes, saving 5,000 ha of Greenfield land - an area the size of Norwich:

  • 70% of new houses are now being built on previously developed land, compared to 56% in 1997;
  • New homes are now built at an average density of 40 dwellings per hectare, compared to 25 in 1997;
  • The draft Green Belt direction announced last month will strengthen planning controls and ensure inappropriate development in the Green Belt remains the exception, not the rule; and
  • Design coding pilots are ensuring high standards of development, covering everything from housing design and street layout to ecology and transport links.

Announcing the nine finalists, Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott said, "When I first questioned the high costs of construction in the UK and suggested quality, affordable homes could be designed for around £60,000, cynics were queuing up to say it could not be done. There has been an overwhelming response to what is a tough challenge, and I congratulate the nine winners who have shown it can be achieved.

"I am now inviting them to move on to the final, most challenging stage of the competition - to design homes for construction on one of 10 public sector sites. We are looking for well-designed, yet affordable homes in sustainable communities where first time buyers and young families will want to live. I wish the nine finalists good luck as they approach the final hurdle and look forward to seeing the winning designs become reality next year.

"As well as enabling around 1,000 more families and first-time buyers to have a decent, affordable home of their own, the £60,000 house challenge is raising the bar for the quality of future developments everywhere. I also congratulate the commendees and other entrants, who have all contributed to the lessons we can learn from this groundbreaking project."

Trevor Beattie, English Partnerships’ Director of Corporate Strategy, responsible for running the competition on behalf of the ODPM said, “The quality of the entrants was very high and all of the bidders are to be congratulated. More than half of the consortia who took part in stage two have met some, if not all, of the rigorous requirements of the challenge to construct a home for £60,000. From the very beginning, this competition has been about excellence and that is what the winners have delivered.

“The bidders going on to stage three combine great design, strong cost efficiency and supply chains, a powerful assessment of environmental issues and a deep knowledge of what makes vibrant communities – all of the aspects vital to delivering places where people want to live. “The best is yet to come. These are strong proposals. Now the stage 2 winners will have the opportunity to develop their designs further with the aim of winning the right to build the 1,000 homes spread across the different sites in stage three. The lessons learnt about good design, quality and construction efficiency start here and will be rolled out to benefit many more homes in the future.”

The stage two winners are: Barratt Developments Ltd; Geoffrey Osborne Ltd; George Wimpey UK; Northern Edge; Redrow Plc; William Verry Ltd; SIXTYK Consortium; The Countryside Consortium; and Westbury. The commended bidders are: Accent Group; GENTECT Homes; Linden Homes; Persimmon; Taylor Woodrow Developments Ltd; The Forward Group; and The Super E® Partnership.

The competition is set to create around 1,000 homes across 10 public sector owned sites. They will be a mix of different types of homes including apartments and houses, sale and rental homes, with around a third being made available for first time buyers. The winners of stage three of the competition are expected to be announced by the end of the year, with the first homes beginning to be built in Spring 2006.

An online exhibition was also launched today to enable members of the public to view the winning and commended stage two designs and to indicate whether they would like to live in the homes on view.

It can be viewed by logging on to:

The winning stage two consortia now have until 4 October 2005 to submit their proposals for the first tranche of four sites – Oxley Park, Milton Keynes; Upton, Northampton; Former Renny Lodge Hospital, Newport Pagnell; and Allerton Bywater Millennium Community, near Leeds.

Further sites will be issued in a few weeks time.

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