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Government ‘must embrace MMC’ or miss housing targets

3 July 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

The government must embrace the use of modern methods of construction (MMC) or miss its target to build 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s, a new report by MPs has warned.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee cautioned in a newly published report that there is still an over-reliance on traditional building methods in the UK, despite the fact that MMC the potential to build homes more quickly and cheaply while maintaining build quality.

It urged the government to work with Homes England and training centres such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to develop targeted programmes for use in the manufacture of MMC homes.

And it recognised initial work to develop centres of excellence to support innovation but suggested these could be strengthened by co-ordinating with the Transforming Construction Programme and Construction Innovation Hub.

The report also called on the government to improve data collection and sharing in order to overcome reluctance to use MMC among lenders, insurers and home buyers. It suggested establishing a database of MMC homes to demonstrate their long-term value and durability.

Meanwhile, the Committee urged the government to examine the impact of the current regulatory system on expansion of MMC, which it said challenges including difficulties accessing land to build on, “opaque and confusing building regulations” and high upfront costs.

Speed, cost and quality

Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts said: “If the government is to have any chance of meeting its target of 300,000 new homes a year it cannot simply rely on traditional methods of construction. They must make a serious effort to support the use of new and emerging technologies that have the potential to have a transformative impact on the speed, cost and quality of home building. This is not simply about shifting production away from the building site and into factories. It is about seizing opportunities that modern technologies allow, whether it be precision manufacturing, use of new materials or digital working.

“First and foremost they must create the conditions to improve investor and consumer confidence. Reluctance is understandable. The perception is that the building innovations of the sixties created homes that failed to survive half a century, while rows of Victorian terraces are still standing. Proving quality and longevity will be key. That is why we have called on the government to collect and publish the data that prove new building methods work, and also show if they have failed.

“The government will also need to support the industry to grow the capacity needed for MMC to play a greater role in national housebuilding. They will need to ensure that the right training schemes and apprenticeships are in place so that we have the skilled workforce that can utilise MMC techniques. They must also work with the industry to support the development of robust supply chains and support innovative businesses develop.

“The housing system is in urgent need of a major boost and if the government is to have any chance of meeting its ambitious target it must grasp every opportunity new technologies allow. But they must act fast and act now.”

To read the full report, click here.

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