New report urges Government to accelerate modular homebuilding

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A new report has called for the construction of 75,000 new modular homes a year to create 50,000 new jobs and reduce carbon emissions by 40%

A new report, published jointly by Cast Consultancy and HTA Architects, is urging the government and the housing industry to work together, to make modular homes the driving force for delivering the government’s ‘build, build, build’ agenda.

Following the Government’s recent planning white paper to reform the planning system, the new report – ‘Build Homes, Build Jobs, Build Innovation’ – points to how modern methods of construction (MMC) has struggled to become mainstream within the current planning system.

The proposed digitisation, pattern book and design code agendas set out in the recent planning white paper will give high-quality modular construction its chance to become an increasingly viable and mainstream form of construction.

This new paper sets out a bold ambition to seize on the opportunities presented by Covid-19 recovery planning to accelerate the role modular homes play in the future as part of a much more strategic approach to nurturing and mainstreaming the manufactured housing market.

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At its heart is the call for more tenure diversity to allow deeper market absorption combined with a new modular homebuilding national integration platform capable of aggregating and coordinating the market.

The report has been co-authored by Mike De’Ath, partner at HTA Design and Mark Farmer, founder and CEO of Cast Consultancy.

They argue that with support from the government, the construction industry has the capacity to produce up to 75,000 well-designed new homes per year by 2030.

Government support

What the industry needs from Government, De’Ath and Farmer argue, is support at a number of levels. The most fundamental of these are:

  • Placing modular at the heart of policy and the ‘build build build’ agenda with co-ordination between BEIS, HMT and MHCLG to implement modular homebuilding activity as a primary lever for levelling up the UK
  • Additional funding for more diverse forms of housing that can be absorbed quickly into the market with linked targets for modular housebuilding building further on the recent announcement of MMC targets being set in the 2021 – 2026 Affordable Housing Programme
  • Capitalising on the planning white paper’s ideas to promote more rules-based and codified planning to help accelerate modular delivery and create beautiful manufactured homes
  • Homes England to create a national level brokerage platform that brings buyers and sellers of modular housing together at a scale that allows the market to grow sustainably.

Stimulate and galvanise modular homebuilding

Mike De’Ath, partner at HTA Design, said: “Our experience of designing modular manufactured housing over the past decade demonstrates the huge benefits to housing delivery.

“New modular homes outperform traditional new homes in nearly every area, not least the quality of build and speed possible through innovation.

“Our ambition for 75,000 new, beautifully designed, modular homes is realistic and achievable, so our ask of government therefore is simple: help us stimulate and then galvanise the demand for modular homebuilding.

“With this help, a sustained long-term pipeline can underpin investment in manufacturing to deliver the quality homes we need while creating the jobs we want.”

Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy, added: “We have come a long way since I published ‘Modernise or Die’ in 2016, but the country still needs to build more homes, quickly. Modular manufacturing is the single biggest gamechanger when it comes to building more homes.

“Government support and investment into the modular construction of homes will deliver the UK Industrial Strategy’s skills, productivity, technology and carbon reduction objectives.

“Increasing modular delivery into the market will also enable a new generation of innovators from SME’s to large UK and international businesses investing and operating in the UK, offering more choice to home buyers and renters.”

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