Timber sector responds to Housing White Paper
Timber sector representative bodies have been giving their reaction to the release of the Government’s Housing White Paper.
Key announcements include:
- Expanding the land available for new housing without affecting the Green Belt
- Making housing plans easier to produce
- Supporting developers to build out more quickly also encouraging modern methods of construction and promoting custom-build homes
- Giving communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing
- Providing small firms with a loan to help them deliver 25,000 new homes by 2020
- Attracting institutional and private investment on housing sector
- Addressing skills shortages by growing the construction workforce
- Promoting affordable housing through specific initiatives (i.e. Starter Home, Help to Buy)
Iain McIlwee, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), commented: “What is not to like? The Housing White Paper reaffirms the Government’s commitment to resolve what really is the biggest issue on our socio-economic landscape. Rather than seeking a magic bullet, it is a broad strategy that covers all parts of the housing sector, ensuring that the volume housebuilders are free and encouraged to build on available land, and vitally creating an easier mechanism for the custom housebuilder to literally fill in the gaps.
“The strategy addresses the balance between ownership and rental properties. And through repeated reference to quality, it reaffirms that it is not just a numbers game, but seeks to ensure we are building quality properties that will stand the test of time – a strong underlying thinking which is very much a Natural Capital approach of not leaving a mess for future generations. This carries into the section on climate change and wherever possible has a positive impact on employment in the UK.
“So I am very relieved to see that the social and environmental opportunities have not been overlooked. The whole timber supply chain is ready to support local authorities in developing policies to support this approach, and of course to ensure that the natural advantages of wood are put to good use in delivering the sustainable housing stock we so desperately need.”
Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA), said: “As Sajid Javid outlined what he called ‘the bold radical vision for the housing market’ and the government’s commitment to support offsite factory built homes, the STA firmly believe that offsite timber construction is the only way to reach the specified target of one million homes by 2020. We welcome the government’s commitment to act as a catalyst for change in the wider housing market, through supporting offsite manufacturing techniques.
As the government pledge support for small and medium size developers, as well as initiatives for self and custom builders – in theory there is a lot of positive content in this White Paper. Making the planning system more accessible and releasing land that is currently in public sector ownership, will certainly have an impact but only time will tell how it works in practise.
The time is right for the construction industry to embrace innovative timber technology and offsite techniques to develop better buildings at a rapid rate to meet government targets, to overcome the shortfall in housing stock and produce energy efficient buildings.”
John Newcomb, Managing Director of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) added: “The Builders Merchants Federation welcomes the Government’s ambitious proposals to boost housebuilding.
“We need more homes, of all tenures, that are built to high standards, use less energy and water, are pleasant to live in, and located where people want to live.
“But building new homes isn’t the whole answer, we also need to make the most of the current housing stock that we have. This is why we welcome the Government’s attempts to encourage later life buyers to down-size, with dignity, to somewhere suitable for them. This then releases larger homes back into the market.”
David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) concluded: “It is good to see the Government finally wake up and acknowledge the need for greater stimulus in the housing market.
The efforts toward greater use of offsite manufacture, along with moves to bring more SME builders into the market will go a long way toward easing pressure in the sector. It is good news for the timber sector.”