In 2017 New Ferry in Wirral was rocked by a devastating gas explosion and now this week factory-built ‘zero carbon’ family homes are being installed at the site. Tony McDonough reports
An area of Wirral that was left devastated by a huge gas blast is seeing the arrival of the first new family homes built at the site since the incident in 2017.
Wirral developer and construction firm Starship has started installing three factory-built zero carbon homes at the location in New Ferry where a huge gas explosion ripped through the district, destroying buildings and injuring more than 80 people.
The blast could be heard several miles away. In October 2019, furniture shop owner Pascal Blasio was jailed for 20 years for causing the blast in a botched attempt to claim £50,000 insurance.
On Wednesday Starship workers, directors, as well as Wirral South Labour MP Alison McGovern, gathered on Bebington Road to oversee the installation of the three houses which were built at the company’s factory in Deeside.
Starship is concluding negations with an as yet unnamed and well established affordable housing provider who will take ownership of the properties and offer them for affordable rent. Heating and hot water in the houses will be provided by a combination of solar panels on the roof and air source heat pumps.
One of the directors of Starship, Dave Dargan, claims the light steel frame houses will have the lowest running costs of any property in the immediate area. And are built to last for 60 years or more. He told LBN: “There is also under floor heating on the ground floor of each property.
“We have a factory in Deeside where the houses are made. We are looking to open a second factory here in Wirral. It takes just a few days to make them in the factory and it takes just one day of installation before they are ready for fit-out.
“To be bringing such an exciting project to the area is fantastic and creating a real buzz. These spacious homes will have the lowest running costs of any property in the immediate area and are delivering more affordable living for local people.
“Our homes are hand-built in our manufacturing centres and finished by local contractors so each and every home we deliver creates real jobs and real local opportunities for people.”
Starship Group is made up of four directors – Dave Dargan, Chris Moores, Chris Dodd and Karl Ventre. It was formed in 2020 following the acquisition and merger of several existing property development and construction businesses and is backed by a private investment fund.
The newly branded group has previously built more than £75m of residential projects across the North West, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. The group already has over £30m of developments in, £20m alone in Wirral, with a further £50m in negotiation.
As well as its conventional construction work, Starship now aims to expand its factory-built homes operation using what is termed Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Hundreds of MMC homes are also in the pipeline at the multi-billion pound Wirral Waters development at Birkenhead docks in a joint venture between Peel L&P and Urban Splash.
Starship is in talks with housing providers and investors in a push to meet the demand for affordable housing. MMC is seen as an ideal way to create new homes quickly and meet the UK’s drive for a zero carbon economy.
Alison McGovern sees the latest development at New Ferry as another important step in the regeneration of the New Ferry area. She says the district was neglected event before the gas explosion in 2017.
She told LBN that the progress now being made to address the dereliction in the area comes “not a moment too soon”. Ms McGovern added: “For all the time I have been an MP here people in New Ferry have deserved better and this is a step in the right direction.”