Together with Matti Kataja, responsible for communication and community relations in the Nordic countries for Northvolt, Norran went to the former Scharins area in Ursviken. There are now 836 modular homes of eight square meters each, as well as a reception, gym and common areas.
Northvolt's CEO, Peter Carlsson, expressed his concern to Norran in October about the stagnation in housing starts in Skellefteå. At the time, Northvolt Ett had 500 employees who had not found permanent housing.
– That's still the picture we have - that 500 people are living in temporary accommodation.
Most of them now live in Ursviken, an area that was first occupied just over three years ago. Originally, it was discussed as an accommodation for contractors, which meant that Northvolt's own employees would not live there. But that has changed. In December 2022, a Northvolt Ett employee moved in for the first time.
– These are people who have moved to Skellefteå but have not yet found their own accommodation. We use these units as one of our accommodation solutions. Those who live there are not families, but single people, says Kataja and continues:
– The goal is that they do not live there for more than three months. We offer new employees these as temporary accommodation. They can come here, start their job, and get to know their colleagues and Skellefteå.
Does this mean that you can take on employees more quickly than if they had to find accommodation first?
– Absolutely. It's crucial today that we have this temporary accommodation that allows us to bring people here. We offer this opportunity when we recruit people both in Sweden and in other countries by saying, "If you come here, you can live here." We also provide support on how Skellefteå works, how Sweden works, and how to find a place to live. We help with tips and advice, says Kataja.
Today, Northvolt Ett is on the way to exceeding 3,000 employees. Peter Carlsson has indicated that by the beginning of 2025 there could be around 8,000 people working at the Northvolt Ett site, more than half of them contractors building the three upcoming production blocks.
– One thing that has been very useful, and for which we are incredibly grateful, is that many people in Skellefteå are stepping up and renting out rooms, apartments or cottages. This has been incredibly important for us to be able to shorten the queues with temporary solutions, says Kataja.
Peter Larsson is currently the government's investigator for reindustrialization in the north. His task now is to promote the coordination of efforts for sustainable community building and rapid population development in Västerbotten and Norrbotten. The task is to report by June 15, 2024.There is concern among stakeholders in the north - companies, municipalities and others - that many housing developers are waiting to see what Larsson comes up with before they'll act.
– The government is free to make proposals now if it wants to. We need decisions now, says Kataja, who reports that Northvolt has regular meetings with the municipality of Skellefteå.
– I feel that we have a good cooperation and that we are on top of all these issues, not only housing, which is what we work with the most, but also the development of schools, preschools and public transport, which we also talk about a lot. There are a number of places around Skellefteå with a good quality of life and good services, such as Bureå, Burträsk, Boliden and Jörn. These are places that are naturally interesting for a shift worker at Northvolt, but we need to talk about it, says Kataja.
Together with other actors, Northvolt is now looking at co-living, i.e. whether suitable premises, such as offices, can be converted into homes. In addition, Northvolt and other companies are courting developers.
Do you think you will be able to find enough accommodation at a reasonable pace?
– We have no other choice. We are looking at everything...
Today, Northvolt Ett is growing by between 100 and 150 employees per month.
Footnote: No Northvolt Ett employees live in the temporary accommodation at Solbacken, where building permission has been granted for 1,200 apartments in the spring of 2022, but only contractors and consultants.
Det var i början av 2020 som Skellefteå kommun berättade att den planerade att upplåta mark på det tidigare Scharinsområdet i Ursviken till tillfälliga boenden, modulbostäder. Bygglovet beviljades i mars 2020 och första inflyttningen gjordes samma sommar.
Hösten 2022 påbörjades området med tillfälliga bostäder på Solbacken i Skellefteå. Det området omfattar 70 000 kvadratmeter. Modulerna där är 13 kvadratmeter.