Could dedicated single-occupancy dwellings provide a partial solution to the UK's housing crisis?
Councillors in Bristol last month ignored the advice of their own planning officers to grant permission to developers Ecomotive to build one prefabricated home and convert an existing property into one-bed homes.
Dedicated low-impact dwelling
Ecomotive's SNUG is a dedicated, one-person, low-impact dwelling. And the go-ahead to erect the modular property in the garden of a Victorian property has been hailed as "amazing" and "innovative" by Ecomotive.
Bristol's planning regulations state that only properties with two or more bedrooms can be built, and planning officials urged councillors to reject the application from Ecomotive. However, the cross-party committee rejected that recommendation and gave the go-ahead for the three one-bed, one-person homes in the Hillfields area of the city.
The existing property will be converted with the prefabricated SNUG erected in the rear garden. Each home will have their own outdoor space.
Grateful to council
Planning officials objected to the size of the properties, stating that single-person accommodation was not in as much demand and could not be upsized in the future. The committee agreed to the planning application by nine votes to two.
Ecomotive welcomed the decision, saying: "We are truly grateful to the openness and level-headed thinking of councillors on the committee not to be driven by bureaucratic outdated planning policy, and to overturn the recommendation for refusal of the planning officer.
"We are also grateful to all the letters and statements of support. [The support] was overwhelming and proves to us there is a real need for change in how we create homes."
Single unit that can be expanded
The SNUG homes project supports those who want to custom-build an affordable and environmentally friendly home. The design is based on a timber-framed module that can be used a single unit or joined or stacked with others to create a bigger property.
The part-finished modules are delivered on site to residents to complete to their own specification.
For the latest Bristol project, Ecomotive will lease a site locally to construct the unit while training local people who want to get involved in modular construction.