YMCA HA Opportunity

As part of our series on innovative housing, a quick note on a big opportunity for CHC members interested in developing in Newport…

On a sunny morning this week, I met with Mandy Caddy, Finance Development Manager at YMCA HA in Cardiff in order to discuss a potential development opportunity that may be of interest to other CHC members seeking to develop in Newport.

Mandy has been given the task of exploring a number of housing options with a view to developing a plot of land for low cost housing in Newport that is owned by the YMCA, and invited me to meet her to view her favoured option – a timber-framed home that PMS, a Barry based building and maintenance contractor, has built for a private sale in Radyr. A neat, single story unit; the house sits in the gardens of a private residence and is currently being let out on a short-term basis.

Built by PMS, with timber panels produced offsite under private contract; the homes can be stacked and are not built to a particular schematic, so dimensions can be varied from home to home. This one is sufficiently spacious that a couple could comfortably live there; with a double bedroom, tidy bathroom and spacious kitchen/lounge.

Having compared this with plug & play models (typically costing over £55k per unit) the timber model is favoured, as it is flexible to suit everyone’s needs and like for like comes out at between 30-40% cheaper. The model, constructed over a timber frame onsite can be built either as individual units (like a bungalow) or as a stacked terrace of any width and a height of up to 3 units high i.e. independently constructed or made as an add-on to an existing property. The price would increase slightly if Welsh timber were to be used (the timber is currently import from Scandinavia) but this can be done.  The lifespan of the product matches that of a conventionally constructed property and all major lenders offer mortgage finance on the same terms as for other types of property. Once the external brick work/rendering and the internal plasterboard is in, the final appearance is no different to its masonry counterpart.

Dean Caddy (Mandy’s husband and owner of PMS) spoke with confidence about the environmental credentials of the product. ‘They have the lowest CO2 cost of any mainstream building material, for example, timber frame homes save around 4 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of driving approximately 14,000 miles! They are non-toxic and one of the most naturally renewable building materials available on the market today. One in five new homes are now timber frame; saving the UK at least 150,000 tonnes of carbon a year. We provide this model on a not-for-profit basis, so that we can assist in offering homes to vulnerably housed people at as low a price as possible. This ensures we can continue to offer long-term employment, and offer training placements for people wishing to learn skills in the building trade’.  

The land on which YMCA intend to develop is a plot of approximately an acre, and is located near the Maesglas Industrial Estate in Newport.  Although the YMCA owns the land they are not a developing organisation. Mandy is happy to discuss any potential for partnership working with local housing associations and can be contacted on 029 2046 6381 (mandy.caddy@ymcacardiff.wales) if you’d like to discuss this opportunity with her.

Hugh Russell
– Policy Officer, CHC