McVey shares vision of Northern ‘Silicon Valley’ for manufacture of new homes

Esther McVey MP (Demo)

THE Government has offered the North of England the promise of a green future as a world leader in the design and manufacture of modern homes.

Housing minister Esther McVey offered a taste of this ‘green revolution’ during a speech to industry leaders in Sheffield yesterday, where she outlined a commitment to using modern methods of construction (MMC).

McVey was on a visit to Factory 2050, part of Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, where she met with major developers, small businesses and academics. There, she announced the Government’s ambition to see a new ‘centre of excellence’ for MMC created in the North.

“We must invest in this new technology. It’s as simple as that,” said McVey. “The benefits are clear. Some modular homes can be built in a factory over a week and assembled on site in a day.

“Industry has told us some homes built using modern methods can have 80% fewer defects and heating bills up to 70% lower. Homes built using modern methods can be of higher quality, greener and built to last.

“I want to see a housing green revolution…The North of England has the potential to be the construction capital of the country for this new technology, and we need to fully embrace this. This could be a new hub. Think Silicon Valley. The ‘construction corridor’.”

Modern methods of construction are being used more frequently, with around 15,000 homes built in 2015 across the country, according to the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). The ‘centre of excellence’ would create a new network of people, connected in their aim to boost the use of MMC while sharing ideas and future uses, under the proposals.

“Homes England sees enormous benefits to MMC – from allowing high-quality homes to be built more quickly to addressing labour and skills shortages and improving energy efficiency – so it’s vital that there is continued investment in it,” said Nick Walkley, chief executive of development agency, Homes England.

Mark Farmer, chair of the MMC Working Group, said: “The UK has a fantastic opportunity to become a true world leader in the advanced manufacturing of new homes. We urgently need to better assure building safety, improve quality, reduce carbon and offer much more consumer choice and protections.

“These improvements will only be achieved if we fundamentally readdress the way we design and deliver new homes. As part of achieving this aim, the establishment of a centre of excellence for modern methods of construction in the north of England will leverage what is already a growing part of the regional economy.”



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