UK’s first virtually plastic-free homes to be run by housing co-op

Pioneer Housing Co-op will provide 12 new homes in Worcestershire using a low-carbon manufacturing facility

A co-op housing development has been completed in Redditch, Worcs., using low-carbon and minimal plastic materials.

According to its developer, GreenSquareAccord, this is the first of its kind in Europe when it comes to building with plastic alternatives.

The Pioneer Housing Co-operative development, on the site of a former factory car park in Redditch town centre, is providing 12 one-bedroom apartments to be managed by Redditch Cooperative Homes.

The members who will be moving in were recruited early in the development process and have had the opportunity to personalise their homes, which have been built using GreenSquareAccord’s low-carbon manufacturing facility, LoCaL Homes. The apartments feature plastic-free finishes such as mineral-based wire insulation, wooden kitchen units and aluminium window frames.  

There are some elements of construction that could not be sourced without plastic. For safety reasons, the outside cladding is made of a cement mixture which includes plastic as a binding agent, and some small fixtures such as the electricity meters could not be made plastic-free. GreenSqureAccord’s executive director of development, Craig Currie, said in a comment piece for Inside Housing that the issues they faced, and costs they incurred, to minimise plastic use in their building demonstrate the challenge the sector is facing. 

The developer‘s assistant director of new business, Carl Taylor, said: “Although challenging, this project demonstrates what is possible and sets a new threshold in the sector for sustainable building. Our aim is for this project to influence others to embrace our approach and remove the plastic elements from their builds, helping to create a more sustainable building sector.”

Prospective tenant David Trevitt said: “I can’t wait to move in and have my own space – the peace and independence this will bring will make a massive difference to my life. As I have disabilities, this place is perfectly suited to me as it is on the ground floor and is close to town and the shops. I can appreciate that the apartment is plastic free and I’m looking forward to the benefits of lower fuel bills.”

The £1.37m project received £830,631 from the Interreg North West Europe funding partnership to allow the plastic reduction efforts to be researched during construction.

It is also part of the Circular Housing Asset Renovation and Management (CHARM) partnership, involving representatives from France, Belgium and the Netherlands and the UK, including Redditch Borough Council. 

Cllr Emma Marshall said: “As we regenerate Redditch, it’s really important that we look towards the environment, and this unique housing scheme fits in perfectly with our green thread. It’s impressive to see how this outstanding project can deliver the best homes for people in Redditch no matter what stage they are at in their lives.”

The £35m regeneration of Redditch town centre will see the co-op double in size, providing over 200 homes for new members over the next year and a half.