Big plans for East Midlands housing shake up

Plans are beginning to take shape in the East Midlands for a new approach to building affordable homes.

Regional procurement consortium, Efficiency East Midlands, is looking ahead to the Homes and Communities Agency’s 2015-2018 Affordable Homes programme. The scheme will see £1.7bn invested in housing organisations and local authorities across the country, who collaboratively will be asked to build 165,000 new affordable homes.

With such ambitious plans, comes the need for infrastructure, resources, skills and materials. The Board at Efficiency East Midlands and its Managing Director, Pete Smith, believes its role, on behalf of its growing membership of 21 organisations, is to prepare to meet the demands of such a building programme. Pete said:

“The construction industry has taken a real hit over the past seven years, as the recession has slowed, and in many cases put a stop to house building in the UK,”

“As such this has impacted on the supply chains, manufacturers and created the start of a skills shortage, that the country may not have time to claw back in order to meet the targets set out int the latest programme.

“Many of the country’s brick manufacturers went out of business, creating a real lull in supply within Britain itself. But we feel we have a solution that can not only improve efficiency, but help to provide greater choice to housing organisations, offering local jobs, not just for the skilled trades, but also a great deal of semi-skilled work.”

On Thursday 3rd April, Efficiency East Midlands will launch its Build Homes concept to its members, fellow consortia and representatives from the Homes and Communities Agency.

As part of its plans, Build Homes (EMBuild) will procure main contractors and off-site manufacturers, providing housing providers with a compliant choice of off-site system build. This will be accessible for EEM members and other consortia through a call-off, or by replicating the model.

Pete continued:

“Timber frame buildings are a design that has stood the test of time. From medieval structures that still stand today, to the more modern sustainable homes built to the highest Eco standards, nearly 70% of the developed world’s buildings are timber framed.

“In today’s building terms, pre-fabricated timber frame properties seem to be a solution for the high-end ‘green’ builder, and the more abstract grand designs. But in other countries, the concept is far more widely used, and we believe it’s time the UK pursued this concept as a viable solution for its housing developments.

“The time saved on building with timber frame will dramatically improve the efficiency of projects, and much of the work can be done by semi-skilled workers. In turn this will help to bridge the skills gap, while providing much needed local employment.”

Off-site construction has a range of benefits compared to traditional build including the potential to greatly minimise site waste. Through the substitution of a range of off-site construction methods there is the potential to reduce on-site wastage by up to 90%. Although some waste will be transferred to the factory environment, the amount will be significantly reduced. In this environment there can also be greater opportunities for reuse or recycling.

Michael Clegg, Head of Existing Stock at the Homes and Communities Agency, will be attending Thursday’s event to learn more about the plans, and discuss with delegates the potential difference this could make to their programmes.

Following the event the Efficiency East Midlands Board, joined by its partner Valueworks, will begin to build on its plans to create a robust framework that will enable its members to save time, money and make real efficiencies in their future developments.