Housing Today has reported on a new taskforce being set up by the London Mayor Sadiq Kahn to ensure continued delivery of housing in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. One of the key elements which the taskforce will look at is public investment in modern methods of construction (MMC).
Amongst various other proposals, the taskforce has issued a report which recommends that the “GLA and councils work together to test the opportunities to procure precision manufactured homes at greater scale and in a more standardised way, building a pipeline of demand to support manufacturers, and giving confidence to new entrants to market”.
This is quite the endorsement for MMC and traditional housebuilders need to take note of the more widespread support which this is receiving. Homes England (one of the UK’s largest landowners) has commissioned its own research study into MMC to drive innovation in the construction industry.
Whist this is a recommendation from a COVID taskforce, we anticipate that a drive to move into MMC housebuilding is much more long-term and not a short-term fix to housing supply as a result of COVID. It is becoming increasingly evident that MMC can be an environmental solution to housebuilding which supports the Government’s long-term environmental agenda. There are also many advantages relating to speed, cost and quality which are also high up on the Government’s agenda.
It will not be long until the GLA and councils in London (as is already happening with Homes England sites) will require as part of their tender processes an MMC component. Traditional housebuilders need to think seriously about this alternative way of housebuilding. Some housebuilders such as Berkeley and Countryside are already investing in MMC and we expect many other housebuilders to follow.
Of course, MMC is only one of many factors which is required to solve the housing crisis. The planning system, tax reliefs, build costs and construction methods are all key areas that need reform. Traditional housebuilders are aware of all of these factors and continue to have positive dialogue with the Government. We expect that given the big impact MMC is having, it will start to make its way up the housing agenda.