Frequently Asked Questions
PLACE is a new approach to tackling homelessness though acquiring modular temporary accommodation. PLACE (Pan-London Accommodation Collaborative Enterprise) Ltd is a not-for-profit company set up and owned collectively by London boroughs, with the Mayor of London’s support, and its mission is to provide high-quality, local accommodation for families needing a home. The company has been established as a means of facilitating a collaborative approach to procuring and owning this new stock of modular housing.
Modular housing has been used successfully as temporary accommodation in various locations around the UK. However, PLACE represents the first time local authorities are joining forces to acquire modular accommodation for this purpose.
Homelessness in London has increased significantly since 2010. There are currently over 60,000 London homeless households living in temporary accommodation – of which over 40,000 are families with children.
There is a severe shortage of high-quality temporary accommodation. Too often the temporary accommodation on offer is unsuitable for families, requires them to relocate out of borough, and is very expensive. PLACE’s modular housing will help address this situation by providing more options for boroughs to offer homeless Londoners. The PLACE accommodation will be high standard, available for boroughs to use on suitable local sites, and cost effective.
Modular housing refers to a construction method where the housing units are made in a factory or assembly plant before being moved to the building site.
These units are built to specific designs in controlled conditions meeting strict quality standards. Modular houses can be designed for future disassembly and re-use on different sites.
PLACE focuses on delivering two and three-bedroom properties – the type most needed by homeless households. PLACE is committed to providing high-quality accommodation and the units will all meet high design standards; meet the London Space Standards; have good insulation and energy performance; and be adaptable to reflect the local area.
The modular housing units will be placed on ‘meanwhile sites’ – land that is currently unused as it is being held for long-term development plans that cannot be realised at the present time (such as for a transport project).
Participating boroughs will identify available meanwhile sites that meet PLACE’s criteria. These sites will need to be suitable for residential development and available to host the modular housing for at least five years.
PLACE will then oversee the assembly of the accommodation. When the site is required for permanent development, the units can be disassembled and transferred elsewhere.
Participating boroughs will go through local planning processes. Currently in the pipeline are two sites in London Borough of Tower Hamlets and one in London Borough of Ealing.
PLACE will increase the availability of high-quality accommodation for homeless Londoners – particularly families with children.
Too often, current temporary accommodation options are cramped and unsuitable for children. If there is no availability in their local area, families may be displaced out of borough.
PLACE accommodation will help keep homeless families close to schools, work, and their communities. It will meet high-quality standards, including the London space standards, and provide good facilities.
Much of London’s temporary accommodation – such as B&Bs and hostels – is poor quality and expensive. PLACE will help address this by providing better quality, better value options for boroughs seeking placements for homeless households.
To get involved, boroughs simply need to identify a meanwhile site and join PLACE. PLACE will take care of designing the development, procuring the modular housing units and managing their installation, all for a small fee of less than 1% of development costs.
The rise in homelessness means boroughs face growing temporary accommodation costs. There is extremely limited provision of temporary accommodation in London and prices are high. Local Housing Allowance entitlements are not sufficient to meet the full cost of accommodation, so boroughs have to subsidise these from their general funds.
PLACE is a not for profit company, so development fees will be lower than the market rate. Boroughs will own the units which means increased flexibility for how they can use the units to help homelessness in their borough. Furthermore, modular construction typically takes less time than a traditional build, so accommodation can be ready for use sooner.
The fact that the PLACE accommodation will be high standard and available for keeping households within their home borough also contributes to PLACE representing better value to boroughs.