Back in the 1970s, the “West Lothian Question” was a query by the MP for the area, Tam Dalyell, about the constitutional effects of devolution. Nowadays, a devolved Scotland faces similar housing issues in many areas to England. The West Lothian Question today is: How can this be solved?

West Lothian Council have considered some novel solutions to its own problems of homelessness and housing shortages, it has been revealed, with a study looking into using converted storage containers as accommodation to save on the £2 million annual bill for putting up homeless families in hostels and B&Bs. 

Unfortunately, the study concluded this would not actually be cheaper or quicker than building new homes from scratch.  

The reasons for this varied. These included difficulties in finding appropriate sites, getting planning permission, meeting building regulations and achieving planning consent. A lack of government funding for this or modular housing was also noted. 

Such a conclusion might make some individuals wonder if they would be unwise to consider converting a shipping container into a home. However, it is worth considering that such an undertaking for a self-builder would be different to the requirements faced by a council needing to acquire large plots of land and get permission on a greater scale.

With a single home project being more modest, getting planning permission might be a lot quicker and easier and finding a suitable plot certainly will be.

Over in the US, the re-use of containers to produce new homes has been so popular in some places as to produce whole new neighbourhoods, such as Vincennes Village in Chicago.

The Cool Down reports that the planned 12-home luxury development is to be made out of recycled containers and, contrary to the conclusions of the West Lothian report, they should be built in 3-4 months, half the time of normal homes.


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