As a community construction charity, PHASES needs to keep abreast of any changes in policy which might impact our affordable housing projects. As a training organisation, we’re conscious that our courses need to reflect industry needs, so that our trainees have reelvant skills. As a social enterprise, we’re busy finding ways to share best practice and to be more effective. Here’s what we’ve been doing lately to keep up to date in the fast-paced construction sector.
About a dozen people from Brighton visited PHASES’ projects in London on a ‘fact-finding’ mission to see our social enterprise in action. The group, ‘Brighton & Home’, are looking to start-up something similar. They were shown around our workshop in Rotherhithe and visited one of our renovated properties in Brockley, where they also met former trainee, Bhakta. Feedback from the group was that they were really inspired by the day and definitely now intend to press ahead with their plans on the south coast.
One of the GLA’s area managers, responsible for partnerships to support regeneration, homes and jobs, visited our completed empty homes projects in Brockley and saw the site of our proposed new build project there. He also met one of our former trainees. The visit was arranged through one of our major funders – The Big Issue Invest. The visit went very well and we understand it will help to cement the relationship between the GLA and Big Issue Invest for future investment opportunities.
As preparations continue for the new build project at Brockley Road, Phases are excited to confirm that they have provisionally identified David Sheard Ltd as building contractor partner. David has a wealth of experience on new build, as well as high quality refurbishment work. Moreover, he is very interested in the social side of Phases’ operations and we look forward to developing a strong working relationship with David over the coming years.
The first ten sites under the TFL/GLA’s ‘Small sites Small builders’ Programme were released for bidding. Phases put in a bid on one of these sites, in Edmonton, with the help of David Corley Architects. That bid was unsuccessful but this is only the start of a Programme which will see many sites released over the next few years and Phases hopes to be successful in future rounds.
Phases were invited, as a community housing organization, to the National Housing Federation conference in London. The conference is mainly for housing associations but Phases took part in sessions on community-led housing and on modern methods of construction.
This show at London’s Excel Arena featured many of the main players in the rapidly emerging world of offsite construction. We were able to speak to a number of companies (Caledonian, Extraspace Solutions and Premier Modular) about proposals for one of our new build projects in Bexley and they took away drawings and specifications to consider There were also interesting presentations by the Offsite Management School on the future direction of the industry’.
We met with the planners in Lewisham as part of a ‘pre-application’ process to discuss our plans for a new build project on Brockley Road (See June 2016). The planners were helpful and have provided pointers in the preparation of our full planning application. Meanwhile, negotiations have continued with Network Rail about the site and we have had considerable help in this from Structural Engineers Tim Barnard & Associates. A great deal of information has also been collated in a feasibility report. We will hope to go to full planning before the end of the year.
This is a network of local authorities, across the country, which promotes cooperative principles and innovation in local government. The network has established a ‘Housing Commission’ to look at how cooperative and community based organisations might provide solutions to the housing crisis. The Commission is being led by the London Borough of Croydon. This evidence-gathering session in Croydon was attended by many officers from different London boroughs, as well as organisations promoting community housing solutions in London and beyond. PHASES were invited as one of a small number of organisations actually generating community housing in London. The network will report in September 2017 but in the meantime Croydon are hosting a good practice website and blog which will feature PHASES, amongst other organisations.