Living in a box: Inside the homes made from shipping containers that will soon be housing Britain’s homeless
- Brighton Housing Trust wants to use converted containers to help people while they search for permanent home
- Each container comes with bathroom, kitchen and plasterboarded wall
- Shipping container homes have already proven a success in Holland
Here’s a fascinating glimpse inside the shipping container homes set to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless people.
A housing trust in Brighton wants to use the 36 adapted containers as a stop-gap for people without a permanent home. It is the latest plan aimed at tackling Brighton and Hove’s ‘desperate’ housing crisis.
The containers have been transformed into self-contained studio flats, and feature bathrooms, kitchens and plasterboarded walls.
The structures were designed for a social housing project in Amsterdam two years ago but the scheme had to be abandoned after hitting funding difficulties.
It is hoped they will instead be used as temporary homes in Brighton and Hove from late spring next year until a permanent roof can be found.
The Brighton Housing Trust and developer QED are to submit a planning application to the local city council for a central site featuring the modified containers with allotments on the roofs.
Andy Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust, said ‘imaginative solutions’ were needed to deal with the ‘desperate’ housing situation in the city.
Shipping-container homes have been used elsewhere, including in London, and are seen as a significantly cheaper housing option than bricks and mortar.
The plans in Brighton follow a warning from leading housing bodies this month that homelessness and overcrowding are getting worse amid Britain’s housing shortage.
High property prices averaging around £302,000, steep private rents and low average wages in the seaside city have contributed to high levels of homelessness
The problems come against a background of rising private sector rents and as more people are claiming housing benefit nationwide, a report by Shelter, the National Housing Federation and the Chartered Institute of Housing said.
Mr Winter said: ‘I have to admit that when it was first suggested to me that shipping containers be used for housing I was a bit sceptical.
‘However, having seen what can be achieved, I was quickly won over. The WC and shower unit is exactly the same as my daughter had in her student accommodation and she much preferred it to having to share bathrooms and toilets with other students. Who wouldn’t?
‘What really excites me about this opportunity is that land that might otherwise lie idle for five years will be brought back into life and used to provide much-needed temporary accommodation for 36 men and women in Brighton and Hove.’
When the site comes to be redeveloped, the containers can be transferred to other locations.
Mr Winter added: ‘This appears to me to be very attractive from a sustainability perspective.’
Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said the Government ‘simply isn’t delivering the new homes we need’.
And David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said there had been’“words and policy’ but ‘we’ve not had delivery’.
In Brighton and Hove, the authorities recognise homelessness as a significant problem, with 43 people found sleeping rough during an annual headcount this month, up six from the previous year.
Mr Winter highlighted the case of one man who was living in his car and holding down a job.
Shortage: The containers are manufactured in China using old shipping containers before being delivered to Europe
He said he would not want to see the shipping containers used as a long-term housing option here, but there are examples in mainland Europe.
‘The most notable project is in Keetwonen, Amsterdam, a development by TempoHousing, of 1,000 containers using exactly the same internal design layout as the ones we are proposing to use. It was completed in 2006 and is still in use today,’ he said.
QED director Chris Gilbert told local newspaper The Argus: ‘We’re not intending to dress them up and pretend they’re not containers.
‘I think it could be an exciting way of addressing, quickly, what’s a massive problem.’