Gateshead Welcomes Swedish Concept in Affordable Homes

Gateshead Welcomes Swedish Concept in Affordable Homes

Gateshead looks set to be the first site in the UK to head a housing revolution with a radical Swedish-designed concept in affordable homes.

Called BoKlok (pronounced ‘Boo Clook’), around 90 Scandinavian-style timber-framed houses and flats are to be built close to the centre of Gateshead, to a design pioneered by Swedish construction firm Skanska in partnership with Ikea.

Ikea and Skanska started BoKlok in the mid-1990s to address the need for affordable properties in Sweden and to provide people with high quality properties at a low price.

Last week, Gateshead Council gave the scheme the green light after councillors agreed to sell an area of land, subject to planning, close to Gateshead International Stadium to the UK’s BoKlok partners -Live Smart @ Home, a property company which is part of the Home Group, one of the UK’s largest providers of affordable housing.

An application for planning permission is expected to be made next month, with work due to start on site in early 2007 and the first flats being marketed in Ikea’s Gateshead store next Autumn.

The BoKlok concept is to provide space-saving, functional homes offering good quality at a price which puts them within reach of households earning between £12,500 and £30,000 a year. Homes will be offered on a shared ownership, below market rent or outright sale basis, with legal agreements ensuring that buy-to-let will be actively discouraged.

The BoKlok flats have a flexible open-plan layout, with high ceilings and large windows which give the apartments a light, airy and contemporary feel.

Councillor David Napier, who is Gateshead’s Cabinet member responsible for Housing, says: “This is an exciting development and an important contribution to the debate on affordable housing.”

“Providing affordable homes is the Holy Grail for local councils and housing providers – but it is still one of the most difficult to achieve.

However, BoKlok offers new solutions to the problem because it concentrates much of the actual building work off-site and that substantially reduces the cost.

“These homes are cleverly designed, highly energy-efficient and they look fantastic, so I don’t think there will be any shortage of potential buyers in Gateshead.

“This is a really exciting concept and a totally new type of home for the UK. I’m delighted that Gateshead will be the first where people will be able to see BoKlok them.”

Alan Prole, Live Smart @ Home Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be the sole licensee for BoKlok in the UK and have now reached a very important stage in the process with the land close to being acquired and a planning application about to be submitted for our proposed scheme in Gateshead.

“Using state-of-the-art construction methods, these homes will be like nothing else seen before in the UK and will play an important role in helping first-time buyers who have until now been unable to get on the property ladder due to the spiralling costs of buying a house. We are pleased to be working with a progressive authority such as Gateshead in delivering our first BoKlok scheme in the UK.”

BoKlok homes are very cleverly designed around factory processes that enable them to be far more efficiently constructed in quality-controlled conditions than would be possible through traditional construction methods. They are constructed using a highly insulated closed panel system developed by Pace Timber Systems, of Milton Keynes, with a range of cladding systems.

Homes come with a host of additional features as standard, such as extra height rooms to give a feeling of space, wooden flooring throughout, fitted kitchens and free interior design advice from Ikea, as well as an Ikea furniture voucher.

The homes will be built by Live Smart @ Home. They have been designed by Home Architects in consultation with BoKlok AB of Malmo Sweden. Milton Keynes-based construction managers Avebury International will manage delivery of the scheme, and the homes will meet and exceed all current UK building regulations, as well as being designed to be energy-efficient.

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