Short-stay accommodation scheme for homeless people on under-used Ashford car park shortlisted for two national awards

Short-stay accommodation scheme for homeless people on under-used Ashford car park shortlisted for two national awards

An ambitious scheme to create high quality short-stay accommodation apartments for homeless people on the under-used Henwood car park on the edge of Ashford town centre has been shortlisted for two prestigious awards.

The project has been shortlisted for the Constructing Excellence – SECBE Awards 2023 under two categories — residential Project of the Year and also sustainability. For more details visit

This will be the first-of-its-kind modular development in the borough. It will be built on a steel podium, and all necessary safety features and flood risk mitigation measures have been adopted for the scheme due to the site situated in a flood zone area.

Ashford Borough Council has teamed up with ZED PODS, an award-winning British modular company, to design and build 23 high-quality, extremely energy-efficient, factory-produced modular homes for the site.

Sharon Williams, Head of Housing at Ashford Borough Council, said: “Not only will this ambitious scheme make savings for the Council’s General Fund over the life of the project, homeless people staying there will enjoy better living conditions, and the scheme’s intention to be zero carbon is a vital consideration for the development.”

Thomas Northway, Chairman of ZED PODS commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award. This modular project is a result of a close working relationship with Ashford Borough Council and the local supply chain, it demonstrates a true partnership. The project showcases how to unlock constrained sites like flood zones for residential use. It incorporates the latest renewable technology and digital construction design to build superior energy-efficient homes for the borough’s most vulnerable people.”

Zero carbon homes
These homes are highly-insulated and triple-glazed, with heat recovery ventilation and featuring 175 solar panels integrated into the roof. The fabric of the building is designed to create zero operational carbon homes with very low energy consumption and running costs. One of the benefits of using modular construction is that the disruption on site to surrounding residents and businesses during construction will be less than a traditional build.

The 23 units of short-stay apartments will be a ‘stepping stone’ until individuals or households who have become homeless are able to move-on to more permanent accommodation. Henwood car park operates at around 20% capacity and has been at this level for many years. It will be actively managed by Council staff to make sure the site is run efficiently. The scheme received planning consent in autumn 2022.

Sense of community
The 23 self-contained homes are a mix of 13 one-bed, nine two-bed and one three-bed dwellings, to ensure a mix of individuals and families can be accommodated. This diversity will help foster a sense of community within the scheme and makes the site easier to manage. There is a large enclosed communal garden to the rear. Parking bays for 19 vehicles are included, including two disabled bays.

Modular build is a first for Ashford

  • Each apartment is occupied by a single household, with their own front door. There is no sharing of accommodation.
  • The apartments are built to meet and exceed Nationally Described Space Standards for new dwellings, people can move in with their belongings plus there is the additional space under the apartments to store items such as cycles with practical shelving/racking.
  • All apartments have a private outdoor balcony.
  • Landscaped gardens designed by a landscape architect to create distinct sociable spaces and high quality outdoor green space.
  • Plenty of light, the apartments are dual-aspect.
  • A secure environment (meeting the police security high standard Secured-by-Design).
  • Highly efficient homes with very low running costs — homes are built in a controlled environment to a high specification.
  • These apartments are Build Off-site Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS)-accredited meaning they will stand the test of time for at least 60 years.
  • Close to local amenities, shops and park.
  • Owned and managed by Ashford Borough Council.

Flooding resilience
While the area technically sits within a flood zone, by placing these modular homes effectively on stilts and raising them to a 2.4m height — where the space underneath can be useful for residents — means that the accommodation will withstand even the most extreme 100-year (plus climate change) flooding event.

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