The 60k home – what, where, how and when

Lord Prescott's £60k homes

Government initiatives for affordable houses, better design, increased construction efficiency, higher densities and help to first time buyers got somewhat mixed up in the announcement of the £60k home competition being run by English Partnerships for the ODPM. This resulted in an un-seasonal round of ‘no we can’t’, ‘oh! yes you can’ between the construction industry and Government.

Details of the competition (Design for Manufacture) are now available and it is clear that the £60k target is certainly achievable and the competition will be for the best home for the price and it will be about designing up not designing down.

  • There are several points that should be noted:The target is for a 60k ‘home’; so many solutions are likely to include flats and houses meeting a range of social and demographic needs.
  • The cost of site infrastructure – estate roads, parking, gardens, drainage, etc.- is not part of the £60k target for the purposes of judging the competition winners, and may well already be in place on some of the competition sites. However, who pays for specific development elements will depend on individual sites and be part of development negotiations between EP and the short listed bidders.
  • The competition brief focuses on the efficiency gains arising from house builder’s proposals for the houses or flats and their substructure.
  • Sites are being identified for the competition, and are likely to be announced before Easter alongside the formal OJEU notice.
  • Up to 1000 homes will be constructed as part of the scheme, not all of them built for £60k.
  • Several of the sites may have an agreed Design Code in place. In these circumstances the competition entries will have to comply with the Design Code; for example in requirements for heights and mass. .
  • Sites are likely to vary in size, with the largest site being 200 homes.
  • All sites are close to existing or already planned infrastructure – schools, hospitals, shops, etc.
  • While ODPM and English Partnerships are keen to promote Modern Methods of Construction, and despite the competition's name, no form of construction is excluded, or favoured, in the competition and all proposals will be judged on their merits.
  • Only 30% of the houses will need to meet the £60k target. This is to promote mixed developments of larger and smaller homes. However all homes will be required to show the same levels of quality, flexibility, construction delivery and cost efficiencies.
  • The current planning requirements will apply, on most sites, resulting in a mix of houses for sale and social housing for rent.
  • EP and ODPM anticipate that around 30% of the homes will be made available as low cost home ownership based on some form of shared ownership scheme. The element of low cost home ownership for individual sites will depend on the local market and affordability needs.

English Partnerships report a high level of interest in the competition from organisations of all sizes and are expecting entries from both individual organisations and consortia.

As the costs put out by BCIS in reaction to the original announcement show, houses and flats are currently being built for £68k or less. Based on a survey of over 200 social housing schemes the average cost for a 2 person 1 bedroom unit of 45m2 was just under £57,000.

This is supported by the data from BCIS Online, which shows that, at current UK mean prices, four of the last 12 flats projects received had a cost per flat of less then £60k.

The current average cost/m2 (gross internal floor area) for houses is around £850/m2 and £1000/m2 for flats. This implies that houses up to 70m2 and flats up to 55m2 (allowing for circulation space) could be provided within the £60k target.

It does not appear that the competition will make any allowance in the £60k for location.

Details of the competition are on the English partnerships website at or email enquiries to

Editors Notes

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