MMC Development Management Platform

Helping local authorities unlock the value of under-utilised land for affordable housing.

Last updated: 18th March 2021

Date uploaded:

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Innovation Lead: RenKap
Project number: 78664
UKRI funding: £60,000

Website:
renkap.com/


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Summary

Up until now, interest in land development has focused on large scale sites and mass housing builds. And yet there are enough smaller scale, brownfield sites in the UK to accommodate 1 million homes. RenKap wanted to increase the perceived value of these sites and make it easy for public sector landowners, like local authorities and the NHS, to become developers in their own right. RenKap has developed a digital platform that will help them not only identify, investigate and assess the viability of brownfield sites, but tender and procure the right teams to develop them, acting as a matchmaking platform for landowners and design and construction SMEs. Where previously small developments like this might have felt too costly, time-consuming and labour intensive, the platform will make it easy, efficient and, ultimately, valuable for public sector to unlock the potential of small brownfield sites and use them to address the affordable housing demand in the UK.

Innovation type: Digital
Organisation type: Innovative SME

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Project pioneers

RenKap is a digital start-up tackling the UK’s social housing shortage by helping to match under-utilised plots of publicly-owned land to SME developers looking for land to build on.

The problem

Recent reports indicate thereʼs enough readily available brownfield land in England to build more than 1 million homes across over 18,000 sites. The larger sites have no problem attracting developers because they offer the scale needed for viability. However the smaller sites, many of which are owned by local authorities are less appealing because the logistics of setting up a development can be both costly and time consuming. Even though the spaces could be used for social housing, local authorities regard the land parcels as too small to warrant the investment of time and money and they become less and less viable for developers.

Vision

RenKap wants to increase the perceived value of these smaller brownfield sites in the eyes of public sector landowners, and put the development of those sites in their hands. The digital platform it has developed dramatically reduces the time and processes involved to identify and investigate sites, run feasibility checks, and brief and procure the right designers and construction teams. It means that the value of the site is no longer based on size but on utility. This in turn will give a massive boost to public sector housebuilding, making small sites more visible and more viable. For SME housebuilders, it takes the risk out of developing these land parcels as they have more effective, accurate information to work with, and a more transparent and efficient data exchange with the public sector landowners.

Key Insight

It was living on a boat on London's canals that opened Gonzalo Marquesini's eyes to the large amount of under-used brownfield land around our towns and cities. Mindful of the affordable housing gap in the UK, where demand outstrips supply, he set up RenKap to create a platform that could improve the visibility of smaller brownfield sites. Despite being of little interest to the larger housing developers, he believed he could unlock their value in the eyes of their public sector landowners and SME housebuilders alike. To do this, he knew he had to make the process of identifying and assessing the land as cost and time efficient as possible; introduce modern methods of construction (MMC) into the build considerations; and minimise the risk associated with developing the land. The answer was an online marketplace, the Development Management Platform.

First step

A milestone moment for RenKap was winning a place on the prestigious Geovation PropTech Accelerator Programme, which allowed Gonzalo and his team to develop their first product within the digital platform, called Site Investigation. The launch attracted RenKap's first clients who tested the product, and validated the market need for a small site development platform. Funding from Innovate UK then accelerated the research and testing of other products and allowed RenKap to speed up development of its platform.

Barrier

Development of larger sites is valued more than smaller, brownfield sites, despite there being enough land available to meet the UK's affordable housing demand. This is because large sites are perceived to be easier to develop and offer greatest return. But this focus on large scale investments means that totally viable smaller brownfield sites are disregarded and wasted opportunities for development. The RenKap platform will give local authorities and other public sector landowners an efficient and effective way to develop sites no matter what their size.

Digital Innovation

The MMC Development Management Platform will allow public sector landowners to find, investigate, assess and develop under-utilised land at a click of a button, thanks to digital automation. Specifically the developer and procurement tool will include: 

  • Site Identification to help clients find out the sites they own 
  • Site Investigation to automate tendering and managing site investigation surveys.
  • Automated Feasibility to assess the viability of the site and help collate relevant cost and income data into the clientʼs financial model. 
  • Design & Planning to procure a design team for the site development 
  • Construction to procure modular manufacturers to deliver housing, and offsite as much as possible  Through the platform, research and investigation processes that would have taken 12 weeks would see that time halved. And tendering and procurement processes that could have required team members to project manage can all be managed within the site and with greater ease and efficiency. The platform helps clients identify key development risks at an early stage in order to mitigate errors. As well as collecting all development data that enables landowners to have full visibility of a site's potential and make data-driven decisions. Previously this level of data would not have been available to clients without a costly and lengthy process.

Collaborators

RenKap was awarded a place on the government's Geovation Accelerator Programme. The team received access to Geovation's technology team who helped test and release RenKap's first Site Investigation product.  The Geovation programme is supported by HM Land Registry and Ordnance Survey. RenKap has also received support from early stage clients including Homes England, Arcadis, Raven, RHP, Camden and Brick by Brick. RenKap is now a listed and approved supplier on the G-Cloud Framework. G-Cloud allows forward-thinking public-sector clients to easily access innovative tech suppliers via their Digital Marketplace.

  • Arcadis
  • Brick by Brick
  • Camden
  • Geovation Accelerator
  • HM Land Registry
  • Homes England
  • Ordnance Survey
  • RHP
  • Raven

Lead support

RenKap secured an initial Innovate UK grant which enabled the team to validate the need for the full model and accelerate the development of the platform.

Long Term Vision

The MMC Development Management Platform can unlock the potential of under-used small scale sites and turn them into value opportunities to build affordable housing. By providing easy access to essential data, suppliers and standardised processes, small and affordable housing developments will be just as easy to instigate as larger ones. Public sector landowners will be able to become developers in their own right, and maximise the development or sale value of the small sites they own.

Human Stories

Gonzalo Marquesini lived on London's canals for four years and so experienced firsthand the need to unlock small brownfield sites to develop more housing. It was this that drove him to set up RenKap and explore how digital solutions could solve the demand for affordable housing in the UK. Gonzalo is an advocate for Generation Rent and PropTech, and became the youngest Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 2019 and has since been awarded the Pride in the Profession Award for his work in affordable housing.

Powerful Processes

The digital platform helps public sector landowners not only identify, investigate and assess the viability of brownfield sites, but tender and procure the right teams to develop them. Specifically the developer and procurement tool will include: 

  • Site Identification to help clients find out the sites they own 
  • Site Investigation to automate tendering and managing site investigation surveys.
  • Automated Feasibility to asses the viability of the site and help collate relevant cost and income data into the clientʼs financial model. 
  • Design & Planning to procure a design team for the site development 
  • Construction to procure modular manufacturers to deliver housing, and offsite as much as possible

Fascinating Facts

RenKap’s technology reduces the Site Investigation management time from approximately 6 weeks to under an hour. Their Site Investigation product is revolutionising the way clients access early site risk data, as well as reducing in-house management time by 90%.

Benefits

Time
It currently takes 12 weeks to complete site investigation works - 6 weeks to complete in-house management actions for each site and an additional 6 weeks for a supply chain to complete their reports. RenKap’s technology reduces the Site Investigation management time from approximately 6 weeks to under an hour - reducing in-house management time by 90%.

Uptake
RenKapʼs MMC Development Management Platform is designed to support all public sector landowners across the UK and make better, more informed decisions about its land and how it procures design and housebuilding partners to develop it. It improves the time and cost associated with brownfield site development, particularly for those local authority teams who don't have in house resources or capabilities to deliver new and affordable housing at scale. The platform has the ability to match up public sector landowners with local supply chains and provide opportunities to SMEs, as well as the potential to increase the uptake of offsite construction.