Your Housing Group and its partner WElink have abandoned their joint venture into modular housing delivery.
Launched with great fanfare in December 2016, the Live Verde North West venture sought to deliver 25,000 low-carbon homes across the UK over five years. But having struggled to progress plans into manufacturing, time has been called on the project.
Ajmal Rahman, chairman of WElink, said: “WElink are disappointed to hear of the YHG board decision to withdraw from the JV. This was one element of our UK strategy to deliver off-site manufactured, energy-efficient housing in large numbers across all tenures.
“WElink will take time to consider the implications of this decision and comment further in due course.”
WElink is a renewable energy business headquartered in Dublin, with 11 global offices, including one in Manchester’s Spinningfields. It has established Live Verde as its UK modular housing business and also owns Barcelona Housing Systems, which develops modular construction methods.
The business is backed by China’s National Building Material Group, which as part of the JV agreement was to fund six modular housing factories in the UK.
Housing association YHG, which owns and manages 28,000 houses in the North, has been expansive in its ambitions, announcing its intention to enter the PRS market with its Hive brand in early 2017, lining up a 30-storey tower in Liverpool Waters.
The organisation was also said to have entered negotiations to take on the New Chinatown site in Liverpool from North Point Global.
Brian Cronin, chief executive of YHG, said: “We are already pressing ahead with our growth strategy to build more than 5,700 homes in the next six years, representing a 20% increase to our current stock.
“Our exciting build programme is unaffected and will continue to deliver high quality homes by both modern methods and traditional means of construction
“We remain committed to exploring innovative ways to build more new homes across all tenure types, including affordable-rent homes. We passionately believe that modular and other modern methods of construction provide a new way forward for the housing sector.”
In a joint statement, the partnership said: “One of the most important facets of the housing crisis is that for more than three decades Britain has not built enough homes to meet demand.
“As organisations we agree that modular, off-site construction is one of the key elements of solving the housing crisis, enabling us to build homes more quickly in order to meet that demand.
“Like many organisations that have announced plans to build off-site manufactured homes we have not been able to bring forward our plans as quickly as we had hoped.
“In working to bring our plans to fruition we have to date been unable to unlock projects at agreed commercial terms that would enable us to build off-site manufactured homes in large numbers.”
The statement concluded: “Both Live Verde and Your Housing Group remain committed advocates of the benefits of modern methods of construction. While we are unable to find a way forward at this time, we acknowledge that a positive working relationship has been created between the parties and we have not ruled out working together in the future.”
WElink, which in December signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Swansea City Council to develop housing, said it remains committed to developing £2.5bn of housing with UK partners.