Eco-friendly construction firm hopes ‘flying factory’ will help housebuilding crisis

Beattie Passive chairman Ron Beattie inside the company's flying factory at Scottow Enterprise Park.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Beattie Passive chairman Ron Beattie inside the company's flying factory at Scottow Enterprise Park. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A new type of factory which will enable energy-efficient housing to be built by local authorities and developers around the country has been launched in Norfolk.

Inside Beattie Passive's relocatable home show home. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYInside Beattie Passive's relocatable home show home. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Beattie Passive, based at Hethel Engineering Centre, has designed a “flying factory” which can be used to build volumetric, or modular, homes.

The Future50 company’s design will enable housing associations and developers to deliver their own homes to the Passivhaus standard of energy efficiency, with off-site manufacture and quick on-site assembly.

The company will provide knowledge and support to help organisations run the factories, plus a blueprint for their construction. Local labour will staff the factories and will be provided with training in volumetric engineering in an attempt to ease construction labour shortages.

Beattie Passive built its first flying factory at its engineering centre at Scottow Enterprise Park out of shipping containers with a timber frame.

It was officially launched by South Norfolk MP and self-build advocate Richard Bacon last week.

One flying factory is already in operation at the Graven Hill self and custom build development in Bicester, Oxfordshire, where Beattie Passive is one of the construction partners.

There is also demand for factories from local authorities in Scotland, Wales and the Midlands.

Ron Beattie, who founded the company with wife Rosemary, said it was a “whole new venture” for the growing firm.

“Construction is changing. We need to find new ways of delivering homes, we cannot do it the old way and with young people not wanting to come into the industry it is struggling,” he said.

“Flying factories have been around for a while but now we need to do more off-site. We have got volumetric factories which can build units, transport them and put them up in a day.”

The company has also revealed its new “relocatable” Passivhaus homes. Made of individual “pods” which can be fixed together to create studio apartments or multi-bedroom homes, the modular buildings can be built in a couple of weeks and erected in a day.

Richard Bacon said the ability to build affordable, energy-efficient homes at scale could spark a “revolution” in housebuilding.

“There is no area where this solution does not apply and Beattie Passive is in the vanguard of it,” he said.

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