44 new Council houses built in Ashford, Kent, utilising in-fill sites.

Changes to government funding structures for social housing allow Councils, for the first time in nearly thirty years, to build directly owned houses for rent.

Capitalising on these changes, Ashford Council embarked on a programme of building that is likely to see some 20 units per year added to the council owned portfolio using private sector finance to fund the development.

The most cost-effective way for the council to achieve its objective was to use land already in council ownership – hence the focus on brownfield and infill sites. The use of these small areas of land does present some logistical challenges, and was one of the reasons that a masonry build was preferred over timber frame: with a tight space in which to build, manoeuvring a timber frame into place would, in many instances, have been impossible.

As Ashford Council had not directly built any new housing units for some two decades, it needed to focus on enhancing its in-house building-management skills. In this project the Council also relied on the experience of its design and build contractor ISG Jackson.