Slow start to Tyne's 'flat pack' revolution

THEY are heralded as the homes of the future and a lifeline to first-time buyers keen to climb on to the property ladder.

Mel Beadling, Helen Beadling, Rachel Beadling, John Hanson, Live Smart@home

THEY are heralded as the homes of the future and a lifeline to first-time buyers keen to climb on to the property ladder.

But yesterday just a handful of customers turned up at Ikea for the launch of the new so-called “flat-pack” style home.

Around 120 flats and houses are expected to be up and running by early next month in St James’ Village, Gateshead – priced between £99,500 and £160,000. It is the first project of its kind in the UK.

The homes are already a hit in their native Scandinavia and bosses at BoKlok – which translates from its native Swedish as “live smart” – are hoping young people will take up the eco-friendly home, built from timber and steel, which could cut energy bills by a half.

Prospective buyers simply fill in a form and numbers are then whittled-down before homes are allocated. One family interested were Mel Beadling, 54, and his wife Helen, 47, from Burnopfield, Gateshead.

The couple were house-hunting along with 19-year-old daughter Rachael, a first-time buyer, during yesterday’s open day.

Mrs Beadling, a self-employed caterer, said: “I think it’s an excellent thing for the area and it’s putting something back into Gateshead and to me it’s helping people of all ages with affordable housing.

“I do think they will be successful, we’re just looking at different options today for both ourselves and our daughter, but it will be interesting to see what they look like when they are actually built.”

Newcastle College student Rachael said it was important for young first-time buyers to get a good deal.

She added: “I do like them because they are a bit different and I think it’s much cheaper than buying a real house.

“I would seriously consider buying one; I’m more likely to be able to afford one than those houses on the market.” The properties are intended for outright or part-purchase options to young people earning £15,000 to £35,000 a year.

Alan Prole, managing director of developers Live Smart@Home, said their sustainability would be the same as a typical brick-built home.

“We have designed these homes and priced them for people struggling to get on the ladder,” he added.

“There are thousands of people in the North-East struggling to get on the property ladder and millions across the UK, this is something which is part of the future.”

When asked by The Journal if he would exchange his home for a BoKlok model, he added: “We will live in one of these houses on a site in the UK in due course.”

Arthur Scott, technical manager with charity National Energy Action, said: “In many ways it is like the return of the prefabs.

“These homes produce around 30% less carbon than your average new build UK home. If people take to the look of them then they could be the way forward.”

Coun David Napier, cabinet member for housing with Gateshead Council, added: “These homes are cleverly designed, highly energy-efficient and they look fantastic, so I don’t think there will be any shortage of potential buyers in Gateshead.

“This is a really exciting concept and a totally new type of home for the UK.

“I’m delighted that Gateshead will be the first where people will be able to see them.”

Potential customers can sign-up for an application by visiting Ikea, Gateshead MetroCentre retail park, today between 9am and 7pm.

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Single mum Claire first through the door

MUM-of-one Claire Pooley was the first through the doors to sign up for the new-style homes.

Currently struggling to get on the property ladder, the veterinary nurse, 27, from Gateshead, met advisers to try and find her first family home.

She said: “It is hard being a single parent to get a house for yourself.

“At the moment I live in an area where I am concerned to allow my daughter to go out so I would really like to buy a home on this new development, which is very family friendly.

“I have been looking for ages to buy my first home but everything is too expensive.

“I had mainly been looking at websites for accommodation, but I couldn’t afford anything and then I saw an advert for the new BoKlok houses.

“I have been waiting for ages to come and apply for a house. I am quite surprised there weren’t that many people here.”

Everyone interested will have to fill in a detailed application form which will require such information as household composition and financial circumstances to be provided.

It may be necessary to hold a lottery supervised by an independent scrutineer.

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Factfile

THE homes were created during the mid-1990s in Sweden when there was a need for new, affordable housing, as a joint venture between Ikea and Skanska.

An eco-homes “excellent” rating means heat is kept in and energy bills should be cut by 50% .

Properties comes with a range of standard quality features including extra high ceilings and large windows as well as laminated wood flooring.

BoKlok (pronounced ‘Boo Clook’) homes are primarily directed at average household incomes of £15,000 to £35,000 per annum. A one-bedroom flat will cost £99,500, a two-bedroom flat will cost £124,950, a two-bedroom townhouse is priced between £132,500 and £139,500 and a three- bedroom townhouse will cost £149,500.

A 12-year National House-Buying Council warranty will be available to all homes upon completion.

When residents want to sell their homes, BoKlok will sell them for them at open market value to another person within the intended client group.

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