TopHat halts work on Corby housing mega-factory

Modular housebuilder TopHat has halted work on its 60,000 square metre manufacturing site in the South Midlands due to “market conditions”.

The firm had initially said the Corby factory would be operational last year but its latest announcement leaves uncertainty as to when the long-promised facility will finally be ready.

When finished, the plant will be seven times bigger than TopHat’s existing Derby site, and capable of creating a house per hour.

But the company last month cited a “challenging market” as it opened a consultation on up to 70 job cuts.

It is understood that the high cost of debt and construction are key factors in the latest decision.

The firm said this week: “TopHat continues to believe it will only be through bringing volumetric factories of the scale of Corby on stream that the UK will be able to solve its long-term housing crisis.

“However, the short-term market conditions mean it is prudent to pause now, with the building almost complete but no equipment yet on site.

“We continue to develop our pipeline and will monitor conditions closely to restart when it is right to do so.”

TopHat said when announcing the Corby plans that its “unique technology platform, advanced robotics and innovative brick facade combine to create endless design possibilities without the high costs and loss of efficiency often associated with high levels of variation”.

The company agreed a £15m debt facility with Homes England in November, after raising £70m from investors including Persimmon, Aviva and Goldman Sachs in a funding round last April.

TopHat posted a £5.1m pre-tax loss for the year ending October 2022, saying it was “not yet profitable or cash generative” because of its “investment in future growth and innovation”.

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