In this policy statement we look at the role of off-site construction technologies in speeding up the house building system, strengthening UK manufacturing and making our new homes affordable and truly sustainable.
As the recent report Building The Homes We Need points out, the UK has “a housing supply system that consistently delivers too few homes, of variable quality, at very high costs”.
The UK’s housing supply market is widely recognised as being broken, and fixing it will require bold long-term leadership from the government to incentivise innovation, set challenging standards and put the householder at the heart of the build process.
The government should support investment in the UK supply chain for off-site construction technologies.
The current off-site industry needs support for innovation and expansion and needs the people and facilities to compete against imports, if it is to meet the demand for its products that will come from clients focused on long-term quality and value. The government should help develop the skills and infrastructure required to grow this sector, which will create jobs and deliver economic benefit for the nation.
- The government must reverse policies that are working against improvements in quality and standards.
Building regulations and planning policies should prioritise long-term sustainability and affordability by setting progressive and challenging standards for energy and resource efficiency, through life-cycle assessment. Instead of winding down the Code for Sustainable Homes, the government should be championing its further development, and fully integrating its principles into building regulations.
- The government should work much harder to diversify the UK housing supply market, by opening up much greater opportunities for self-builders, local authorities and housing associations.
By 2020, there should be at least as many houses built by these players as are constructed by the traditional commercial building companies. The government should recognise that the step change in ambition required needs far more commitment and imagination than the welcome, but inadequate, £30 million for self-build schemes announced in 2011. There is the need for fundamental restructuring of supply and there is an opportunity for New Garden Cities to lead the way.