The Journey of Affordable Housing

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The Journey of Affordable Housing

Prior to the recession education was the biggest sector at Speller Metcalfe, but as education projects began to decline, we took the strategy of looking to enhance what experience the team already had and what the market was dictating – this in order to keep above the parapet and remain strong in one of the most difficult periods industry has been subject to in recent years.

Our Living Director Matt Brown was one of those with a more varied background than what Speller Metcalfe was currently offering and where we were looking to extend – into the affordable housing sector.

In early 2011 when Speller Metcalfe decided to set up our Living division, the existing housing market offered a mix of contractors who were heavily embedded in Framework agreements with Housing Associations (HAs). However as the housing market began to suffer as other sectors had, what had once started at around £1400-1500 per sq m had been driven down to sub £1000.

Consequently, many smaller contractors couldn’t compete and were failing to deliver on quality and programme to HAs who were inevitably more focused on bottom line during the recession. Conversely, larger contractors didn’t have the flexibility of smaller contractors and a middle gap started to appear where we could position Speller Metcalfe in being able to offer the whole package; quality, competitiveness and the personal approach of a family-run contractor.

Initially, as frameworks still dominated the market it wasn’t all plain sailing – we were pricing smaller jobs but not winning the work. It took a lot of effort, relationship-building and a journey for Housing Associations to understand what Speller Metcalfe could deliver. Going over and above the traditional housing contractor and communicating with the decision makers, we have helped to deliver schemes at an economic rate without being locked into frameworks and avoiding the pitfalls of smaller contractors.

While education still remains one of our largest market sectors, our Living team has grown phenomenally as has our project capacity and turnover. Speller Metcalfe is now an approved contractor for over 20 Housing Associations, with many of our projects now procured through negotiation with numerous repeat clients.

Here is just a teaser of some of our key projects, which include one of the UK’s first Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 schemes delivered alongside repeat client, Rooftop Housing.

Blake’s Hill, Evesham
Client: Rooftop Housing Group

Blakes Hill is a fantastic examplar project of affordable housing built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 at a highly competitive £1500 per sq/m. This greenbelt site has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including receiving High Commendation at the NFB Awards New Build of the Year category.


Shropshire (various)
Client: Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing

A 68 dwelling scheme set around 15 locations in Shropshire aimed at developing brownfield sites (majority dilapidated garages) into affordable housing schemes ranging from Bridgenorth to Owestry. The project is set to complete in March 2015 and will provide a mixture of 2-3 bed properties. 


Westbury Crescent, Weston-super-Mare
Client: Alliance Homes

This high specification social housing scheme is being built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, and incorporates elements such as a roof terrace, glass balustrades and a Cotswold stone façade across the nine new build flats and individual bungalow.


Hall End Lane, Pattingham, Shropshire
Client: Housing Plus
The contract for Hall End Lane is a sensitive site based around existing residential properties that have not been in favour of an affordable housing scheme. Together with the HA, Speller Metcalfe has worked alongside the local community to address concerns and minimise the impact of the scheme, which incorporates 19 new dwellings, services off site and highway works. 

Client: The Guiness Partnership

A mix of nine new built houses and flats of shared ownership and affordable rent, this scheme plays close attention to local architecture, incorporating features such as red brick facings and lintel detailing. Built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 for repeat client The Guiness Partnership.


Arley, Coventry
Cassidy Group

Construction of 16 new build masonry bungalows on the former site of Arley Working Men’s Club built to CSH Level 3. The team has also been responsible for laying an adopted road and developing a street lighting scheme for the project. 


Aubrey Street, Hereford
Marches Housing

Construction of a timber framed, five storey building in the middle of Herefordshire city centre, this impressive site accommodates 23 flats on behalf of client Marches Housing. Due to its location and restricted access we worked closely with local businesses and residents to achieve the final result with minimum disruption.


Sansome Place, Worcester
Worcester Community Housing

Originally Heenan’s Social Club, Sansome Place is being transformed into a respite care facility for up to 16 residents, following the demolition of the original building (aside from the front façade that had been classified as listed). 16 units now house individual bedsits, each with self-contained kitchen and washroom facilities alongside office space for the HA.


Marson House, Clevedon, Somerset
Alliance Homes

Marson House is an old chapel that had since been remodelled into an office space but had stood empty for the last 10 years. Repeat client Alliance Homes contracted Speller Metcalfe to refurbish the building into six flats with additional community areas and lift, built to BREEAM Very Good.


As our capacity has grown so has our team, which is reflective of Speller Metcalfe as a whole since moving out of the recession. However as we have engaged new staff in order to meet the demands of the division, our focus is to consolidate and stabilise our numbers, ensuring all our staff are embedded in the well-regarded approach and client expectations of the Living team.

Part of this future growth now encompasses movement into partnering schemes and high end rural developments. With this in mind we are always looking to how we can deliver a better, progressive experience to our clients and partners – whether HAs or private developers – something we know is an ever evolving process if we are to continue to offer best value and practise. 

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