London’s first modular commuter village to be built

London’s first modular commuter village will be constructed in Corby, Northants, by modular homes provider Project Etopia.

Etopia Corby will be a model of how villages of the future can be developed quicker and more affordably with its inexpensive modular homes that are equipped with energy saving technology and smart home equipment as standard.

Corby is at the centre of an ambitious project to grow the population from 50,000 to 100,000 by the early 2030s. It is already popular with young workers commuting to London, which is as little as an hour and ten minutes away by train.

The commuter credentials of Priors Hall Park, where the homes will be built, have been boosted by a high-profile publicity campaign featuring Stephen Fry, which dubbed the area North Londonshire.

A development of eco-homes had been planned for the site but Project Etopia stepped in to buy the land at the 11th hour after the project stalled.

Groundwork will start in this month, while construction for the 47 homes, comprised of 31 houses and 16 apartments, will begin in February. By constructing the exterior shell of the homes in a factory and transporting the parts to Corby, the development will be finished incredibly quickly. This in turn lowers the cost to the homebuyer. A 4-bed house is expected to sell for between £320,000 and £350,000. New brick and mortar builds in Priors Hall Park cost from £450,000 to £575,000.

The first four homes are due to be completed by the end of March and each unit should take no more than six to eight weeks to build. The previously-planned traditional development was expected to take two years to complete but Project Etopia expects to finish the houses by the autumn.

Community interest company Electric Corby was the first to begin laying down plans for a development of new homes on the site that would be totally energy self-sufficient in 2013.  However, getting the building industry to meet the need for energy efficient homes proved to be a herculean task.

Working with an eco-home provider, it secured funding from an EU scheme that supports the incorporation of energy and storage technology. But institutional residential property investors still too often prefer traditional methods of building and other financial backers did not materialise. It left the project, which received planning permission from Corby Borough Council in 2016, at risk of folding altogether.

After an 18-month search, and almost at the point the project would have to be scrapped, Project Etopia stepped in and bought the site, with a commitment to complete the project.

The homes in Etopia Corby will be equipped with E-Smart technology, giving owners the power to control the lighting, blinds and more. They will also have a geostore system, allowing them to generate and store their own electricity.

Joseph Daniels, CEO of Project Etopia, commented:

“Old building techniques are exacerbating the housing crisis and it’s totally unnecessary.

“Corby is leading the way in showing how villages of the future should be built. Modular building is now so advanced, it is senseless to cling to bricks and mortar, which takes longer to build and is far more expensive.

“With a desperate need for more housing stock around the country, it is vital developers and investors finally let go of preconceptions of modular building. These are homes people really want to live in and they present huge environmental benefits from being energy neutral to requiring less on-site traffic during the build.

“However, a lack of acceptance for alternative building methods was enough to almost drive this development into the ground.

“The reality is these homes have more Internet of Things technology than the average traditional new build and that also plays a role in keeping energy consumption down.

“Commuter villages like this offer younger would-be homeowners the wage benefits of working in the capital but without the high property costs, and Etopia Corby will be a model other councils can follow.”