IKEA-designed housing will soon pop up in Worthing, a town in southern England where average housing prices are 11 times that of the average salary. In a bid to ease the housing crisis, the council has signed a deal with international residential developer BoKlok UK to deliver 162 sustainable, factory-built homes to the coastal town.
Launched in 1997 with the goal of providing affordable, sustainable homes to the masses, BoKlok—pronounced "boo clook"—is an innovative joint venture between Swedish construction company Skanska and furniture retail giant IKEA. The company produces approximately 1,200 homes a year, and so far it has built over 11,000 modern homes throughout Sweden, Finland, and Norway.
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After an unsuccessful attempt to break into the UK market over a decade ago, BoKlok launched BoKlok UK to fulfill the company’s expansion plans, beginning with Worthing.
"I very much welcome this innovative proposal from a groundbreaking international firm, which could bring real benefits to hundreds of local families," said Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council's executive member for regeneration.
"In this current market, it's extremely tough for local people who are in full-time work to get on the housing market. This proposal could change that, giving these hard-working individuals a genuine chance to buy their own home without having to move out of the town."
The development will be located on government-owned land west of Fulbeck Avenue. Thirty percent of the units will be used for social housing, while BoKlok will sell the remainder at prices set by the company's "left to live" affordability model, which calculates how much residents can afford to pay after taxes and living expenses.
In addition to the promise of affordable mass housing, the council was also drawn to BoKlok’s commitment to using high-quality and sustainably sourced construction materials. Built in a factory, the customizable homes will range in size from one-bedroom units to three-bedroom apartments. The homes will come fully outfitted with flooring, wall tiles, and IKEA kitchens.
Construction on the site is expected to begin in September 2020. If all goes to plan, the first BoKlok homes in Worthing could be move-in ready within two years.
"Providing good-quality affordable housing is a perennial problem across the southeast but it is one that as a Council we will continue to find creative ways to address," says councillor Heather Mercer, Worthing Borough Council's executive member for customer services. "This innovative proposal ticks so many boxes and would help us provide much-needed good-quality housing to hundreds of hard-working families. I look forward to seeing the plans progress in the coming months."
If the housing development is successful, the council may also consider a larger proposal with BoKlok for 500 new homes in the borough.