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Homes for homeless build under way at Waterbeach Barracks




Seen with some of the modular homes been built are from left are project manager Peter Cairey, left, and Simon Bray, the designer of the homes. Picture: Keith Heppell
Seen with some of the modular homes been built are from left are project manager Peter Cairey, left, and Simon Bray, the designer of the homes. Picture: Keith Heppell

A modular homes project which will house six homeless people on church land off Cambridge’s Newmarket Road within weeks has received planning permission – though there have been bumps.

The YMCA team slated to carry out the construction of the homes at Waterbeach Barracks became unavailable, though happily another team from Riverside Youth Foyer stepped in at short notice.

“They’re very enthusiastic and helpful,” said John Evans of New Meaning, whose organisation designed the homes. “We’ve got more from CRC due in a week or two.”

Three of the homes are currently being put together. The second three builds are expected to be faster.

“Testing out the design has taken four weeks,” says John. “There’s been lots of tweaks – the others will be much quicker to build.”

The designer of the modules is St Neots-based interior/furniture designer Simon Bray.

“It’s a one-person unit, a relocatable home,” he said. “It’s a simple concept, it’s got a bedroom, in the central space is a bathroom, then there’s a private space at the back for the bedroom.

“It’s important to have private space at the back as there will be all sorts of helpers coming in to assist the occupants. The home is powered entirely via the electricity grid. We are researching off-grid solutions but they’re very expensive at the moment.

“The drainage system is via Anglian Water.

“We are very keen to make a space a person can be proud of, which will mean the occupants’ self-esteem will be boosted.”

Kitchen units await installation at the hangar in Waterbeach Barracks
Kitchen units await installation at the hangar in Waterbeach Barracks

The units have eight power points and water and space fora washing machine in the bathroom area.

“This is a pilot scheme,” adds Simon. “It’s all new. It’s a process. It’s been very well planned and thought through and the aim is to get the units on site by December 15 or shortly thereafter.”

Stakeholders in the project include New Meaning, the Holy Cross parish church, Allia’s Cambridge Future Business Centre and Jimmy’s Cambridge. Jimmy’s, the city-based homelessness charity, will decide who gets to live in the new units. Developers Urban &Civic has made a hangar at Waterbeach Barracks available for the building project.

“It was good to get the planning permission, so we’re very positive about that,” says Martin Clark, Allia’s deputy CEO. “The task now is to get the site ready and get the most efficient strategy for utilities.”

“The planning committee gave a very positive approval for the project, so we can get on with all the other preparations such as the site, utilities and support arrangements,” adds John. “When the units are finished they will be craned into Barnwell on six lorries. The six lorries will mean the job can be done in a day – crane drivers charge a daily rate so doing it all in one day makes financial sense.

“When the six units are completed they will be craned on to six low-loaders and put in place on the land in front of the Christ the Redeemer church in Barnwell.”

The homes are expected to be on-site for at least two years.

Artist impression of modular homes for homeless due to be be craned on to church lad next month. Picture: Allia/Robert Myers Associates
Artist impression of modular homes for homeless due to be be craned on to church lad next month. Picture: Allia/Robert Myers Associates


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