Looking to the horizon with Future Homes

Friday, 31st January 2020

A ground-breaking new vision for affordable homes to suit all generations is being put forward for Newcastle Helix - a 24-acre vibrant innovation district in Newcastle’s city centre.

The ‘Future Homes’ project aims to design and build a community of 66 homes on a site on Buckingham Street within easy walking distance of the city centre’s shops, cafes and restaurants.

The development has been conceived as an exemplar of sustainable urban housing, with flexible living space to suit residents’ changing needs. Homes will feature innovative concepts such as moveable partitions, so rooms and layout can be configured to suit the changing needs of different households.

The project involves developing three buildings, each with six to eight storeys, and the concept involves efficient construction using modular steel facades, with extensive communal landscaping and green roofs.

Newcastle Helix stands on the western edge of Newcastle city centre, within sight of the nationally known St James’ Park football ground.

The plans aim to maximise the building’s solar aspect, with all homes featuring floor to ceiling south facing windows, and to provide high quality private and semi-public spaces.

The Future Homes Alliance (FHA) is a Community Interest Company formed by Newcastle University, Ryder Architecture, Zero Carbon Futures, the Elders Council, the Sustainable Communities Initiative, and the Innovation Super Network. The FHA is working in partnership with Newcastle City Council and its development agent Karbon Homes.

Legal and General Capital, the key investor behind the development of Helix, has sponsored Future Homes holding citizen workshops with Ryder Architecture to help co-design the project and its design and performance outcomes.

The design has been developed in collaboration with Newcastle Helix and their masterplanning team.

The partners have been working together for over two years now, developing a substantial base of research led by an extensive period of consultation with the local community, to agree proposals ready to be presented for consideration by city planners.

The buildings will all benefit from a range of communal facilities including gardens, mini-allotments, and cycle storage – all aimed at making the homes as sustainable and inexpensive to run as possible.

The concept of Future Homes was created to help tackle issues which the country’s existing homes do not properly address.

  • By 2040, one in seven people in the UK will be over 75
  • 25% of young people aged under 35 have to live with their parents
  • 4.5m people in the UK are in fuel poverty
  • Air pollution costs the UK economy £54bn per year and causes 680 deaths per year in the North East
  • Cold, damp housing leads to a £864m spend for the NHS
  • The NHS spends £435m per year on falls related injuries, most of which happen within the home.

The intention is for up to five ‘demonstrator’ homes to be used by industrial partners as test beds for innovative products, trialling a range of technologies, to enable data to be collected which may lead to wider adoption in housebuilding elsewhere.

Amended plans have now been agreed by the Newcastle Helix board / Future Homes Alliance and submitted to Newcastle City Council.

The homes will all be affordable, and will be a mixture of social rent and Rent to Buy, giving opportunities to all sections of the community in Newcastle to live in the new development.

The project includes secure cycle parking for every home and due to its city centre location is well served by public transport. The site itself will provide up to 10 parking spaces including two disabled bays and two bays dedicated to car sharing schemes.

The Future Homes project will form just part of the residential element of the Helix site, which in total will deliver just under 400 homes by 2025.

The Future Homes Alliance will be seeking expressions of interest from contractors on the Homes England Framework early in the new year.

Professor Rose Gilroy from Newcastle University, founder and chair of the Future Homes Alliance, said: “It is well known that our quality of life is very dependent on the quality of our housing. Our current housing stock does not respond to our changing lives by allowing adaptation; it does not protect us from fuel poverty or fuel insecurity nor has it embraced new technologies.

“The Future Homes project will throw down a challenge to the housebuilders by creating new ways to live well in cities.”

Ged Walsh, director of development and asset management at Karbon Homes, said: “It’s important for landlords like Karbon to innovate, to explore new ways of providing homes, so we’re excited to be working with our partners in the Future Homes Alliance to bring this new development forward.”

Philip Miller, Project Architect at Ryder Architecture, said “The Future Homes development is the embodiment of a collaborative and responsive design process where the needs and aspirations of the community acted as the catalyst for change. The scheme puts the quality of life of its residents at the forefront and enables their homes to change as their needs do, in a sustainable and affordable way.”