Industry News

Housing Minister Alok Sharma to be keynote speaker at BMF Members Day

The Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma, will speak at the Builders Merchants Federation’s Members Day on 20th September 2017. 

Mr Sharma, who was appointed to this role in June 2017, is responsible for the government’s housing and home ownership policy as well as the planning policy which underpins it. Other important parts of his current portfolio include estates regeneration and regulation of the private rented sector.  

Mr Sharma was elected as Conservative MP for Reading West in May 2010. Before taking up his current post he was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and has served as a member of the Commons Treasury select committee and the Commons Science and Technology select committee. 

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “A great deal of merchant business is driven by housing but I believe this is the first time that a housing minister has addressed BMF Members Day. We are delighted that Alok Sharma is able to join us this year.” 

BMF Members’ Day 2017 will be held at Jurys Inn Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire. The Business Conference and the BMF’s black-tie Awards Dinner both take place on 20th September. The BMF’s annual Golf Tournament will be held on the previous day, 19th September, along with our other social activities, Quad Biking and Rifle Shooting 

For more information and to book a place at the BMF Members’ Day Event, click here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/housing-minister-alok-sharma-be-keynote-speaker-bmf-members-day]

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.

The publication – released last Tuesday and aimed at “fixing Britain's broken housing market” - will drive Government construction and housing agenda over the next months.

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.”

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/timber-sector-responds-housing-white-paper]

Housing white paper: 'Offsite timber construction could be solution to homes shortage'

Speaking from the Scottish Federation of Housing Association’s conference, Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA) and member of CTI Board of Directors, commented the launch of the Government Housing White Paper today.

"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", said Mr Carpenter.

"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 - particularly important for the social housing and private rental sectors, together with home owners and occupiers."

STA CEO also underlined government’s commitment to support offsite factory built homes, saying that "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."

"With four out of five new homes in Scotland being built from structural timber – we know that offsite timber solutions address many government concerns associated with public procurement of housing including speed of build, environmental impact, lifetime energy efficiency and cost performance – these factors are all largely beneficial not only to government plans but to the wider community."

One of the solution to the housing crisis could be represented by offsite manufactured structural timber systems. According to Mr Carpenter, "they can offer house builders cost, programme and performance assurances. Structural timber solutions outweigh other sectors in regards to volume of materials – the sector is quick to respond and can add capacity at a relatively rapid rate to meet demand. Shortages in other traditional construction materials will continue to encourage larger builders and specifiers to look to alternatives."

Mr Carpenter concluded: "Innovation in the structural timber product range has broadened the appeal – the industry is no longer defined simply by the supply of timber frame kits and panelised solutions. It is driven by intelligent and integrated construction solutions, such as closed panel timber frame, structural insulated panel systems and volumetric modular options. Manufacture in well managed factory conditions, with stringent controls in place - minimises waste and optimises both quality and productivity."

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/housing-white-paper-offsite-timber-construction-could-be-solution-homes-shortage]

'New London Plan Policy is great step forward for sustainable housebuilding', says Wood For Good

Wood For Good has expressed its satisfaction with the new London planning regulations, capable of "bringing back the need for zero-carbon residential development in the capital."

The Greater London Authority announced a new zero carbon homes policy earlier this year. It comes after the Government scrapped its zero-carbon 2016 targets at the end of last year.

Housing in the capital will now need to meet new standards for zero-carbon development or pay cash to a carbon offset fund.

The news comes as infrastructure consultancy firm Arcadis ranks the UK capital as the fifth most sustainable city in the world in its 2016 Sustainable Cities Index. The capital beat the UK’s other largest cities in the ranking — suggesting that the other regions need to be doing more to contribute to the country’s climate change reduction goals.

Christiane Lellig, Campaign Director at Wood for Good, said: “The new London Plan Policy is a great step forward for sustainable housebuilding in the capital following the scrapping of Zero Carbon Homes last year. London’s dense built environment creates challenges to delivering carbon-neutral homes but the industry needs to look beyond traditional building methods.

“There needs to be a paradigm shift in thinking towards greater use of off-site construction using timber. This would ensure that sustainability is incorporated right into developments through the material’s strong environmental credentials.”

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/new-london-plan-policy-great-step-forward-sustainable-housebuilding-says-wood-good]

Planning permissions reach highest level since 2008, but it's not enough

The number of planning permissions granted for new homes in Q1 of this year remained high, HBF and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report shows. Permissions for 66,102 homes were granted in the first three months of the year in England, up 4% on the previous year. 

As underlined by the Home Builders Federation (HBF), permissions have risen steadily every year since 2009, with actual housing supply also increasing markedly over the past two years as more of the permissions have progressed to the point where builders can begin building. The last 12 months have seen a 66% increase in permissions granted on the nadir of the recession in 2009. Numbers are now only 0.3% below where they were at the highest point in early 2008.

Nonetheless, demand for new homes remains extremely strong. HBF estimates there is a shortfall of well over one million homes in England. Almost a third of young people (3.35m) are living at home with their parents and 1.24 million people are on housing waiting lists. The Help to Buy equity loan scheme continues to drive demand for new homes and interest rates remain historically low.

Over 180,000 new homes were added to the housing stock in 2014/15 – up 22% on the previous year - as house builders increased output in response to the rise in demand for new homes.

 

[News URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/planning-permissions-reach-highest-level-2008-its-not-enough]

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