Ni Smartbuild

Plus Dane tackles infill sites

The Cheshire and Merseyside housing association has started a pilot project, Ni Smart Build, to design and build new units in small vacant parcels of land within its estate.

Plus Dane is working with project manager Mpulse, Value Indicator and John McCall Architects. The construction will be carried out by Plus Dane's in-house trades team rather than using external contractors in an attempt to cut costs.

Ni Smart Build's first project will be three homes on a site in Runcorn, built by eight members of the trades team who will expand their skills with on-the-job training.

Inger Leach, quality manager of Plus Dane, said: "We have a large, highly-skilled trades team and a commitment to creating sustainable, local jobs and building affordable homes for sale or rent. Although the recession has brought building costs down, we are looking strategically to what the situation will be like in five years' time when we anticipate costs will be rising."

Plus Dane already has plans to develop more than 1,000 new homes by 2015 to suit a variety of needs across Cheshire and Merseyside and will continue to deliver affordable housing through its existing framework contractors, with Ni Smartbuild aimed at small scale schemes.

"This is just another piece in the jigsaw, looking at ways we can turn small infill sites into quality homes for people who need them," Leach added.

"There is a massive need for affordable housing and we want to build wherever we can, involving local people in the planning process and creating construction jobs that are permanent rather than on a build by build basis.

"With control of process, cost and quality, we can also cut out the waste associated with developing."

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