Back modular construction to tackle housing crisis, says report

House built in IMH Factory 1 (Demo)

The government and the housing industry should back modular construction to alleviate the UK’s housing crisis, a new report has concluded.

The report, co-authored by representatives from HTA Design and Cast Consultancy, finds that while modern methods of construction (MMC) have struggled under the current planning system due to their high up-front costs, the planning reforms proposed by the government will help modular construction become more viable.

The report says that building 75,000 new modular homes a year by 2030 will help create 50,000 new jobs, reduce carbon emissions by 40%, and help the government deliver its levelling up agenda.

Mike De’Ath, partner at HTA Design, said: “New modular homes outperform traditional new homes in nearly every area, not least the quality of build and speed possible through innovation.

“Our ambition for 75,000 new, beautifully designed, modular homes is realistic and achievable, so our ask of government therefore is simple: help us stimulate and then galvanise the demand for modular homebuilding.

“With this help, a sustained long-term pipeline can underpin investment in manufacturing to deliver the quality homes we need while creating the jobs we want.”

The report, Build Homes, Build Jobs, Build Innovation, says that boosting the UK’s modular housing sector will help address a number of the UK’s structural challenges, such as sluggish housing supply, poor-quality new build homes, and the country’s high carbon footprint.

Modular construction is seen as quicker, safer, and more environmentally friendly than traditional housing methods – while advocates say its off-site nature will allow construction to continue under current coronavirus restrictions.

The report argues that the government should place modular homebuilding at the heart of its housing policy, such as by building upon targets for the use of MMC set for the upcoming Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).

A more rules-based, ‘codified’ planning system will help accelerate modular delivery, it adds, while Homes England should create a national ‘brokerage’ platform to help bring together buyers and sellers of modular housing.

Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy, said: “Modular manufacturing is the single biggest gamechanger when it comes to building more homes.

“Government support and investment into the modular construction of homes will deliver the UK Industrial Strategy’s skills, productivity, technology and carbon reduction objectives.

“Increasing modular delivery into the market will also enable a new generation of innovators from SMEs to large UK and international businesses investing and operating in the UK, offering more choice to home buyers and renters.”

While the government has said that 25% of homes in the next AHP should be built using MMC, it has not yet announced more specific details on how this target should be reached.

The report’s authors have urged the government to use its upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to implement the report’s recommendations.

Image: A house being built in Ideal Modular Homes’ factory in Liverpool. Credit: Ideal Modular Homes

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