What is Y:Cube?
Y:Cube is a new high quality, affordable and sustainable housing concept providing self-contained units that offers accommodation for single people in housing need.
Y:Cube is constructed as a modular volumetric system that is deployable in a range of locations.
Y:Cube provides high quality, secure and aspirational accommodation at a rent which is affordable.
Who developed Y:Cube?
Y:Cube was conceived by YMCA London South West to address the significant demand for affordable, self-contained accommodation for single people in housing need.
This initiative is a partnership between YMCA London South West; Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners who led on design; Aecom, who provide pre and post planning consultancy; and SIG plc Building Systems who provide the off-site design and manufacture.
Who is Y:Cube for?
Whilst the original use was as move-on accommodation for YMCA residents, other applications for Y:Cube could include providing accommodation for young people leaving care, low income families, key workers or students.
The Y:Cube properties provide a stable environment for individuals to be able to secure and maintain work, training or education opportunities, thereby improving their personal skills and earning potential in order to secure their own move-on opportunity.
Rent will be set at, or below, the Local Housing Allowance for a one bedroom flat, making the accommodation accessible for people on benefits.
What is Y:Cube Mitcham?
The Y:Cube Mitcham scheme, located on Clay Avenue in Mitcham is a 100% affordable housing scheme. It has been agreed with Merton Council that 50% of the nominations will be for YMCA residents currently living at YMCA London South West’s hostels and the other 50% will be nominations from Merton Council.
The rent is lower than the Local Housing Allowance for a one bed flat in Merton.
Each flat will be let on an assured short-hold periodic tenancies with the anticipated length of stay being three to five years.
This scheme is designed to provide ‘next stage medium stay’ accommodation for single people in housing need.
How was Y:Cube Mitcham funded?
Along with investment from YMCA London South West, the Mitcham scheme was funded with a grant of £337,000 from the Mayor of London’s Building the Pipeline scheme alongside a ‘social’ investment from Esmee Fairbarn Foundation, Trust for London, the Tudor Trust and the City of London Trust.
What are the benefits of Y:Cube?
Y:Cube schemes build costs are less than other traditional forms of construction (typically 25%) thus the schemes can be built without capital grant where LHA rates allow, where market rents are lower schemes are eligible for HCA (or GLA) development funding.
The construction and development costs are cheaper than traditional forms of housing construction and development, resulting in schemes requiring from as little as ten years to repay any debt funding.
Schemes can be opened in as little as five months following completion of a successful planning process. Due to its high quality of design and off-site manufacture the energy costs of running a Y: Cube are kept to a minimum.
Where can Y:Cube be built?
Y:Cube is a scalable solution, creating clusters of units (typically between 20 to 40 units) that can be quickly developed and meeting a range of needs that can work at sites across the country, that can be bought or leased for as little as ten years.
Y:Cube schemes can make use of challenging brownfield sites that are either too small, have challenging ground conditions or unsuitable to support more traditional construction methods. They can also bring into use sites which have a longer term development aspiration.
How are Y:Cube schemes financed?
Y:Cube has been designed so that capital grant is not necessarily required. However for permanent schemes, development grant can be secured where required.
Each scheme can be funded by bank finance, reserves, private or corporate investors or social investment by a charitable trust or foundation.
All capital costs can be recovered from the rental stream with a payback period on average between 10 to 15 years.
A funder may secure an interest in the scheme and/or land.
What is the approach to planning?
As Y:Cube is designed to be a medium stay home (and not long term) it is therefore exempt from local authority housing space standards. Y:Cube has been included in the Mayor of London housing strategy.
Y:Cube is fully deployable and designed to last up to 60 years.
Once the scheme’s capital is repaid there are two options: 1) The units are removed and the site is returned to the owner. The local provider can then relocate or sell the units. 2) Keep the units in the current location and maintain its use in providing affordable housing.
Technical information about Y:Cube units
Y:Cube is constructed using an innovative (SIG patented) Panelised Wall & Roof System. The Y:Cube project adopts a modern means of construction that means the highest building thermal fabric standards can be achieved in a cost effective way.
The use of offsite manufacturing means that a level of precision and quality control can be achieved that is often impossible with traditional construction.
The units are designed to enable Y:Cube schemes to meet Building Regulations and Code Level 4 for Sustainable Homes or equivalent standards.
Y:Cube has a design life of 60 years +.
What’s next for Y:Cube?
YMCA London South West are working with our partners, RSH+P, AECOM and SIG, to develop a venture which will be able to offer Y:Cube developments to the other YMCA’s, local authorities and the wider market.
This venture and the opportunities for further Y:Cube developments have already provoked considerable interest.