The Gravesham Community Investment Partnership (GCIP) will identify locations and develop suitable sites for new council-owned homes in the north Kent borough, which currently has more than 1,000 households on its housing register.
Cllr John Burden, leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said “We have long-held ambitions to build hundreds of new council homes in order to provide real social housing for those with demonstrable roots in Gravesham, thus reducing the number of people on our Housing Register.
“However, we are a local council, and while we have succeeded in directly developing 200 new council-owned homes in the past four years, we recognise our limitations and the fact that bringing a specialist private sector housebuilder with investment, commercial, and financial expertise on board will greatly accelerate the progress we want to achieve.
“Hill has already produced results through similar partnerships with local authorities across the UK, including Cambridge City Council, and I have no doubt they are the right partner for this important programme. I really must emphasise; this is primarily about building new council homes for local people who need them the most.”
The Cambridge Investment Partnership (CIP), an equal partnership between Cambridge City Council and Hill – the same model being adopted in Gravesham – was founded in 2017 to help address the housing shortage across Cambridge.
CIP is already on site building more than 700 new council homes, has completed eight developments, and is working to deliver a minimum of 1,700 new homes, including 1,000 council homes, over the next 10 years.
Andy Hill, chief executive of The Hill Group, said: “We are proud to have formed an investment partnership with Gravesham Borough Council and are looking forward to working closely together to expand the delivery of affordable homes for local communities in the area. Work now begins to identify suitable sites where we can apply our significant experience and expertise for the swift delivery of much-needed new homes for Gravesham.”
Hill is donating eight prefab SoloHaus units to the council as part of the deal. SoloHaus and DuoHaus homes are built from steel in Shrewsbury by Volumetric Modular Ltd, of which Hill is 50% owner along with Darren Richards. They arrive on site fully furnished with a kitchen, living and dining area, bedroom and bathroom – and can be transported on a lorry. They are designed to have a minimum 60-year lifespan and construction warranty.
The council has yet to decide where to put them.