Neath Eco-Friendly Housing on Site of UK’s First-Ever Oil Refinery


Leading modular housing company ilke Homes has partnered with developer Abode Waterstone (part of the Jehu Group) to deliver six factory-built affordable homes on a site near Neath, South Wales, that was once home to the UK’s first-ever oil refinery.

The partnership will see ilke Homes deliver the new homes, with Abode Waterstone managing the on site development.

The new scheme, called Abode Coed Darcy, forms part of phase one of a wider development that is transforming the former BP Llandarcy Oil Refinery site into a 4,000-home development with onsite primary and secondary schools, a district centre, community facilities and green open spaces all being built.

Coastal Housing Group, one of Wales’ biggest housing associations, will manage the new eco-friendly homes, all of which will be manufactured along a production line by ilke Homes at the company’s 250,000 sq ft factory in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

BP Llandarcy Refinery was formally opened in 1922 by Stanley Baldwin, then-President of the Board of Trade. The refinery was the UK’s third biggest by production and by 1960 it was refining eight million tonnes of crude oil a year.

Unlike its carbon intensive predecessor, the site will now host high-quality factory-built homes that will help lower the UK’s carbon footprint. By using precision-engineered techniques and digital design, all six homes will have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least an ‘A’, making them more energy-efficient than 99 percent of all new builds in the UK.

During the manufacturing stage, ilke Homes is also able to reduce waste by up to 80 percent due to digital technology generating precise estimates of materials needed, and of the waste that is produced, more than 90 percent is recycled.

Across the whole of the wider 4,000-home site, large parts of the former refinery are being recycled to cut down on waste and, ultimately, save on emissions:

  • 600,000 litres of oil – enough to fill 9,000 tanks of fuel in an average family car – has been recovered and recycled through an extraction process
  • 200,000 tonnes of concrete has been recovered and crushed, and will remain onsite to provide recycled hard core for buildings
  • 5,000 tonnes of steel recovered with the majority being reused on site
  • 95 percent of material extracted from the site has been reused during construction

The Abode Coed Darcy scheme is utilising the Welsh government’s Innovative Housing Programme (IHP). Announced in 2017, the initiative is available to organisations – such as housing associations, local councils and developers – that use innovative techniques to aid the delivery of new homes.

In February 2020, the Welsh government announced a £45m investment into modular housing, in an attempt to increase the delivery of social and affordable homes. The new funding, which will be made available through the fourth round of the government’s IHP initiative, will also help modular housebuilders, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, develop supply chains, factories and skills development centres.

The UK government also has high ambitions for modular housing. Ministers have set the UK construction industry the target of becoming the world leader in modular construction within the next decade to help meet housebuilding targets. By 2030, the amount of homes being delivered using modern methods could double to 20 percent, according to Savills, equating to around 80,000 new modular homes delivered a year.

In 2019, the government’s national housing agency Homes England agreed a £30m investment into ilke Homes to boost the company’s production capacity. The deal was one of the UK government’s boldest moves yet to build more homes faster, while creating additional capacity in the construction industry.

Tristin Willis, executive director of construction at ilke Homes, said:

“The Abode Coed Darcy site demonstrates the evolution of British industry, as the UK takes steps to becoming a more forward-thinking, sustainable economy. If the government is to meet net-zero targets by 2050, diversifying the supply of new housing will be crucial. Modular housing provides a greener method of delivery for investors, developers, housing associations and local authorities looking to rapidly scale up the delivery of affordable housing.”

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, said:

“To meet government targets, it’s imperative that the next generation of housebuilders are trained to manufacture homes in factories. Investment will only flow if the right skills exist. That’s why we welcome the Welsh government's commitment to invest in skills development centres, while also building strong supply chains.”

Andrea Gardner, sales & marketing director at Abode Waterstone, said:

“It is fantastic to partner with Coastal Housing and ilke Homes for this very exciting and ambitious project at Llandarcy.  Whilst a brownfield site, the location is very popular for the commuter buyer.  The creation of this village was a good opportunity to join in partnership and led us to launch our new concept to the middle market ‘Abode Waterstone’.  We had been wanting to look towards the mainstream market for a while, timing was good and Coastal are a perfect fit to work alongside, with good principles of urbanism.  A good mix brings a community together.  As a family business, community is incredibly important and we see it as a stepping stone for our customers to grow with us.  Coed Darcy – the urban village for all.”

Gareth Davies, Executive Director of Growth and New Business at Coastal Housing Group said:

“We are tremendously excited about delivering these modular homes on our site at Coed Darcy in partnership with Abode Waterstone and ilke Homes. This has been a site that we have been working on for about 3 years, and to finally see this come to fruition after a huge amount of hard work from many people is something of which we’re extremely proud.

“Welsh Government and Neath Port Talbot Council have shown massive support for this venture and the Innovative Housing Programme has enabled us to take the first steps towards realising a different, yet positive future for housebuilding in Wales, which we hope will lead to high quality affordable homes and creating new jobs at the same time.”