YMCA Unveils Its Y:Cube Housing In Merton

More affordable accommodation units could follow

YMCA has opened its first Y:Cube development - an off-site manufactured housing project for single people in housing need – in Mitcham.

The affordable accommodation scheme, located in Clay Avenue, was unveiled by the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP on Tuesday (September 8).

The 36-apartment Y:Cube development is designed by architecture practice Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners as move-on accommodation for people leaving homelessness hostels and supported housing schemes.

The apartments are being rented out at 65% of the market rate in the area.

This saving is possible due to the off-site method of construction, which in turn led to a far quicker build programme – in this case around five months. The construction methodology and speed of installation mean each unit cost significantly less than a conventionally built equivalent.

Y:Cube has been created by YMCA London South West in partnership with architecture practice Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, project manager Aecom, and UK contractor SIG Plc Building Systems.

Richard James, Chief Executive of YMCA London South West, said: “Y:Cube presents a new way of creating genuinely affordable aspirational housing for single people in housing need. Great design and an innovative construction system have helped us in developing a housing scheme that challenges traditional housebuilding methods.”

The 36 Y:Cube units were all built off-site in Derbyshire before being transported to London. Construction on the three-storey site started in March and the last home was completed in August. The courtyard has been named George Williams Court, after the founder of YMCA.

YMCA hopes to roll out other similar Y:Cube schemes across London and parts of England in the near future.

Along with investment from YMCA London South West, the Y:Cube development in Mitcham was funded with a grant of £337,000 from the Mayor of London’s Building the Pipeline scheme and ‘social investments’ from City Bridge Trust, Tudor Trust, Trust for London and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Deputy Mayor for Housing and Land, Richard Blakeway, said: “This innovative scheme aims to give young people the chance to rent their own home in the capital at an accessible price and is part of a range of much needed housing the Mayor has helped deliver. I hope the site we are launching today is the first of many more to come across London.”

Wendy Omollo, aged 24, is one of the first Y:Cube tenants to move into the site. Having previously been homeless and slept rough on the streets in Kingston upon Thames, she came to YMCA London South West in February 2015.

She said: “By having my own space with my own front door I will regain my independence. But it’s not just that. As the rent is affordable and I can stay for up to five years, I’ll also be able to save money for a deposit. Basically, when the time comes to move on from Y:Cube, I will be in a far better situation than today.”

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England, said:  “As the largest provider of supported accommodation for young people in the country, YMCA is increasingly seeing young people struggle to afford the costs of private rent, leaving them with few options when they are ready to move on.

“Even for a young person in employment, a combination of low wages and high rents can quickly see them priced out of the market. We believe Y:Cube presents a significant opportunity to deliver genuinely affordable housing to meet the increasing demand.”

For more information on Y:Cube, visit: www.ymcalsw.org/ycube.

September 11, 2015

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Y:Cube in Mitcham