WORK has started on two schemes together worth £1 million to provide 18 new homes in Southampton.

Drew Smith is building 12 flats at Millbrook and a further six at Portswood for Swaythling Housing Society under an architect-designed scheme.

The sites are at Rownhams Road where 11 two bedroom and a single one bedroom home will be provided, and at Portswood Road, where five two bed and a single one bed flat are being built.

In an unusual move Drew Smith found the sites for both sets of homes, employed the architects and gained planning permission before handing them over to Swaythling. In the past Drew Smith has assembled and developed several other sites around the city for social housing.

"We are accustomed to building high class homes through our associated development company but with a subtle change we have been able to provide low cost housing and put something back into the community," said Andy Doswell, managing director of the Southampton based company.

"As a company we have taken the initiative on this as it forms part of our core business ethos. We assemble the sites, design the new properties and gain planning permission for them. We have used Tony Oldfield as architect for the two schemes so they will look like high class homes rather than properties built to a budget.

"People have a common perception that everything a developer does is now for high profit.

"But I wanted to show the people of Southampton that it's not the case. I wanted to enable people to come off the housing waiting list by providing affordable new homes.

"I like to think that we have achieved fresh and innovative designs."