The House of Lords Science & Technology Committee report on “off-site manufacture” comes at a right time, as demand for homes continues to outpace supply in the UK, especially in London. The report ‘Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change’ correctly identifies the problems faced by the stakeholders of the housing sector in adopting off-site manufacture on a long-term basis.
In the light of the current housing shortage, the Government has set ambitious targets for house-building and announced further investment through the Construction Sector Deal. But the Committee is of the view that more action is needed to reduce the demand-supply gap.
To provide a major push for off-site home construction, the Committee has suggested to the Government to “consider mandating a proportion of off-site manufacture for large regeneration projects.” This is a welcome move, as regeneration projects will speed up.
Through Homes England, the Committee wants the Government to put pressure on housing associations and local authorities to stipulate the use of off-site home construction when procuring new housing developments.
The Committee has also addressed a few concerns faced by home-buyers, especially on mortgage lending for homes built using off-site construction. The Committee has recommended that the Government explore options for the accreditation of housing built using off-site construction, to ensure that mortgages are available to those who wish to purchase them.
All these recommendations will indeed increase the supply of homes to the market. Strawberry Star Group is already moving in this direction by adopting elements of off-site home construction in some of its future housing schemes, especially those aimed at the first-time buyers.
The take up of off-site manufacture has varied and in certain parts of the sector has been somewhat limited. This is perfectly understandable given the regulatory, financial and commercial environment in which the sector is placed. To change this, action is needed not just by the sector, but by the Government as well: HOUSE OF LORDS / Science and Technology Select Committee