Developer eyes up council land for modular housing windfall

4 December, 2017

Hot on the heels of the Mayor’s Draft London Plan to build more homes on the capital’s unused sites, a new developer with a fresh concept in fast-track modular housing targeting gardens, garages and old brown-field sites is already in business.

“The Mayor’s initiative came very nicely for us. We knew something like this was coming but it was great timing,” agreed Paul Tully and Philip Bueno de Mesquita, directors of Land Converter.

Launched last summer through Facebook and other social media sites, Land Converter has already hired four practices- “all skilled in single dwelling houses” – to design new projects in Forest Gate (on an old shoe factory), and gardens in Ealing and Sevenoaks. With another five sites in the pipeline, the company aims to have 10 developments on the go by next year.

The four practices are: Adjaye Associates, Faye Toogood, Carl Turner and Skene Catling de la Pēna.

The way it works is that vendors upload details of their unused sites online while Land Converters work unpaid to make sure developments can make it through planning. Once planning is agreed, the vendors receive 25% of the final valuation by The Modern House, the company gets the other 25% while the remaining half goes in construction and design.

Even more attractive for vendors is they avoid capital gains tax if the land is under 0.5 hectares and part of their principle residence – and pay at the planning option stage.

If the London Draft Plan is incorporated into a government White Paper, the pressure will be on for local authorities to release more of their brownfield sites for development.

“The big issue at the moment is the uphill battle we have with the town hall planners,” said Philip. “We are waiting for the boroughs to follow the lead taken by the Mayor. Once that happens and we have our first built project, we are going to take our blueprint to Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Ealing and Lambeth – all boroughs sitting on acres of dilapidated industrial sites which could be turned into valuable housing.”

The company uses the Cube Haus construction concept which prefabricates materials off-site for four to six months – but can be built onsite in a week.

“We have recruited and curated four of our architects all with totally different aesthetic approaches but all skilled at single dwelling houses – we are not building big luxury developments,” said Philip.

Land Converter will use the HCA’s £3 billion Home Building Fund that aims to support custom builders and regeneration specialists alongside larger developers and builders.