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Prescott's £60,000 House Challenge: First Successful Bidders Announced

Plans for £60,000 homes have became a reality as the successful bidders for the first four sites were announced.

Following tough competition from all six bidders involved at this stage, Barratt Developments plc, George Wimpey UK and the SIXTYK Consortium (Crest Nicholson and Kingspan Offsite) have been selected by national regeneration agency, English Partnerships to build their Design for Manufacture homes on four of 10 publicly-owned competition sites. This follows the advice of an independent panel of experts.

Design for Manufacture is part of the Government's commitment to deliver decent, affordable homes for everyone - whether to rent or buy - in sustainable communities where people will be proud to live. There is mounting evidence that young couples, families and key workers are finding it increasingly tough to get a place of their own:

  • Over the last 30 years we have seen demand for new homes increase by 30% - people are living longer, and choosing to live alone - but house-building rates have dropped by over 50%.
  • The mismatch between supply and demand undermines economic stability. There are currently 150,000 fewer workers than jobs in the South East and if nothing is done, that figure will treble by 2027.
  • Until the mid 1990s a first-time buyer paid around 2.5 times their annual income to buy their first home. First-time buyers now have to pay more than four times their salary to buy a property, rising to as much as seven times their salary in London.
  • By 2026 the proportion of thirty-something couples able to afford to buy is set to fall to approximately a third, compared to half of couples today and two-thirds in the late 80s, if the country carries on with current building rates.

Announcing the first successful bidders, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said, "People's sons and daughters are finding it increasingly difficult to get a foot on the housing ladder and we need to do all we can to make sure they are not denied the opportunity of a decent, affordable home of their own in future. The £60,000 home competition is breaking new ground, bringing down construction costs and using publicly-owned sites for development. As well as the new homes that will be delivered through the competition, the lessons learned will influence thousands more developments in future.

"We set the bar very high to ensure the winning bids are of the highest calibre in terms of design, cost efficiency and environmental standards. All the finalists have responded well to a very tough challenge, proving it is possible to design affordable, quality homes for £60,000. I am impressed with the way they have all refined and improved their plans during the final stage of the competition and I congratulate the successful bidders who can now bring their designs to life."

Trevor Beattie, Corporate Strategy Director for English Partnerships, who are responsible for running the competition on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) said, "All of the submissions we received at this stage have shown massive improvements on their initial proposals and deserve to be congratulated. The preferred bidders announced today illustrate the very best of these submissions. "This competition set out to achieve major efficiencies in housing construction without sacrificing quality and design. What we've seen from everyone involved is proof that not only has this challenge been met, but that it has created ground-breaking improvements and efficiencies which could be adopted across the entire industry."

Innovative home design, cost efficiency and high quality standards are key factors in the proposals submitted by all the bidders at this final stage to the competition, with examples of landmark environmental efficiency, excellent use of sustainable products and maximum use of natural light. These first four competition sites will see the creation of more than 500 homes. At least 30 per cent of homes on each site will be built to a construction cost of £60,000. The remainder will be a mix of smaller and larger homes constructed with similar cost efficiencies. Overall, the competition will see the construction of more than 1,000 new properties.

Key features from the chosen homes include:

  • Flexible floorplans – homes that can adapt to their occupier’s changing lifestyles, such as the house proposed by Barratt with a room in the roof and double height living room, and homes with no internal structural walls, making them more adaptable;
  • "Eco-hats" – like those proposed by George Wimpey and SIXTYK - central lanterns built into the roofs of homes that allow more natural light in to help manage heat more effectively. All the winning homes achieve EcoHomes "very good" or "excellent" standard;
  • Built-in surveillance – home designs which enable a good view onto the street from inside the home, in keeping with the requirements of the Secured by Design standard.
  • Accessibility – enabling access around the home by wheelchair users, or the flexibility to make changes such as the insertion of a lift.

The preferred bidders for a further six sites are expected to be announced by January 2006, with construction of the first Design for Manufacture homes expected to start in Spring 2006. A publication highlighting the lessons learnt from the competition, together with a public exhibition to showcase the £60,000 home designs are also planned.

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