West Suffolk College students set to design and build new homes

An architects drawing of the the new flats
An architects drawing of the the new flats

West Suffolk College (WSC) is collaborating with Havebury Housing Partnership (HHP) to develop (design, plan and build) a new affordable housing development of seven high specification flats in Bury St Edmunds.

FE and HE students in Design, Construction, Computing and Media will be involved in the two year project; working alongside external contractors at every stage of the delivery, once planning permission has been achieved.

It is thought to be the first time that a Housing Association and a college have worked together so closely to design, plan and build a real life project that will benefit the local community.

The collaboration offers an exceptional educational experience to students and will hopefully produce a building that will be special in many ways.

The ambition and innovation of the project has already inspired Kevin McCloud, from Channel 4’s Grand Designs to lend his support to the project.

Kevin McCloud said; “I applaud the efforts of West Suffolk College students as they embark on the challenging and stimulating project of designing, managing and building a development of flats together with the Havebury Housing Partnership.

“This will give the students first-hand experience of the whole process involved in creating beautiful and sustainable homes, which is important as their generation will be the developers of the future.”

A preview event was held at the Milburn Centre, Bury St Edmunds last Tuesday (Feb 4), giving local residents the opportunity to view the plans and a 3D model and to meet the students responsible for the final designs.

HE Architectural Technology Students were invited to submit a high quality design to a panel of experts before Christmas.

The winning scheme was submitted by a team of five third-year Building Services and Construction Management students, who will all be at the preview event.

Key project members from Havebury and West Suffolk College will also be attendance, including Chief Executive of Havebury Karen Mayhew and College Principal Dr Nikos Savvas.

The project is the brainchild of husband and wife Ian Newman, STEM Coordinator at West Suffolk College and Suzanne Newman, Development Manager and project lead at HaveburyHousing Partnership.

Ian said “It is an unquestionable truth that the educational experience we can offer students is enriched if they are given the opportunity to work directly alongside industry.

This collaboration takes this one step even further, as they will be involved in creating a building that will make a real and long term sustainable impact to the lives of local people.

He continued; “Construction output in the East of England is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 0.9%, with output growth in our region reported by LMI Future Trends to be above the UK average over the period 2010 to 2014.

“Suffolk is building and so are we.

“This collaboration offers an outstanding opportunity for us to develop the next generation of construction professionals who will be ready to meet this demand.”

Suzanne said: “Havebury creates affordable homes for local people in need and working with West Suffolk College will provide a fantastic opportunity for students to be involved in a housing project from conception to completion.

“Havebury is also very grateful to our partners at Oxbury and Co, MLT Architects and Cocksedge Building Contractors for giving their time to be involved in this project.

“We hope this is the first of many projects and we are very excited to hear residents’ feedback and hope they will be pleased with the proposals”.