The United Kingdom has a new champion to defend the country against its growing housing shortage: Chinese-backed prefab construction. The behemoth China National Building Material Company (CNBM) is teaming up with U.K. housing association Your Housing Group and renewable energy company Welink to build six factories that will churn out 25,000 homes a year by 2022.
The $3.37 billion venture will supply a much-needed infusion of new homes and building practices into Britain. In October, an independent report from the British government urged the country’s construction industry to “modernize or die.” Manufacturing prefab homes was highlighted as the most promising solution to the U.K.’s housing crisis, and now CNBM is leading the most ambitious effort to develop a robust prefab pipeline.
The homes will be made of pre-engineered wall panels designed by Barcelona Housing Systems, produced in the new U.K. factories, and assembled on site. The homes will also feature solar power and energy-efficient design, allowing at least 75 percent off-grid capability.
The first development from the partnership is likely to break ground even before their first U.K. factories are finished. The venture is planning to build some 2,000 homes—with panels supplied from Spain—in a handful of prototype developments in 2017.