IKEA modular housing scheme turned down by South Glos planners

Visualisation: Aerial view.
Visualisation of BoKlok’s proposed housing development at Hoodlands, near Hambrook, Bristol.

A planning application from a company part-owned by IKEA to build 48 low-cost modular homes at a site just off the Stoke Gifford By-Pass has been refused permission by officials at South Gloucestershire Council.

BoKlok, a partnership between IKEA and construction company Skanska, specialises in homes that are assembled from three-dimensional timber-frame modules that are manufactured off-site. The modules are fully fitted out, internally and externally, before being transported to site for assembly.

The modular production process results in a reduced number of site deliveries, by up to 80 percent, and a faster build programme, by as much as 50 percent compared to traditional methods.

Overall, the carbon footprint of production using this method is said to be less than half that of comparable traditional build projects.

The application site is a 1.81-hectare plot at Hoodlands Farm, which lies about 100m east of the Stoke Gifford By-Pass, between the railway bridge and the Hambrook Lane junction (see map, below), within the emerging East of Harry Stoke (EoHS) New Neighbourhood.

Map showing location of site.
Map showing location of the Hoodlands Farm site.

Thirty-one dwellings would be ‘open market’, 13 for social rent and 4 for shared ownership.

The rectangular site is bordered on three sides (to the north, east and south) by land in the control of Crest Nicholson, who have planning consent for 1,290 new homes within the part of EoHS south of the railway.

It was proposed that access would initially be via the existing farm drive off Hambrook Lane, but it was planned to integrate with Crest Nicholson’s new road network once this has been sufficiently built out.

Although Crest Nicholson has begun setting out infrastructure on its land south of Hambrook Lane, work on its parcel of land bordering Hoodlands Farm to the north of Hambrook Lane is not due to be completed for another three years, which conflicted with BoKlok’s intention to start building within 12-15 months. In addition to access considerations, this also caused complications with the design of sewers and surface drainage, requiring BoKlok to propose temporary solutions for the interim period.

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Council officers raised concerns over the necessary widening and surfacing of the farm drive, due to the high risk of damaging hedgerows and the roots of trees, including a number of protected oaks. The use of the drive to accommodate abnormally large deliveries of the modular housing was seen as a high risk in this regard. Furthermore, as the farm drive currently functions as a ‘dark wildlife corridor’, the installation of lighting would have an adverse effect.

Although officers acknowledged the benefit of the BoKlok housing coming forward in a relatively short timeframe, along with the welcome provision of a quantity of affordable homes, the impacts of this acceleration in terms of harm to priority habitats, landscape character, trees and protected species were considered to outweigh the benefits of potential early delivery.

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Dylan May, land and planning director at BoKlok, commented:

“It is extremely disappointing that our application at Hoodlands, on allocated land within the East of Harry Stoke New Neighbourhood has been refused. The proposals were underpinned by significant investment and represented a sustainable development with support from local parish councils. It had been demonstrated that these much-needed new homes could come forward alongside the wider development and without disruption to its delivery.”

“BoKlok will now explore all options to bring this scheme forward including continued liaison with South Gloucestershire Council as well as other parties.”

More information: Planning application P21/05128/F

This article originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 2 & 3).

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