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MMC offers the potential to deliver homes the UK needs

Words: Laura Edgar
Modern methods of construction / Shutterstock_121713352

The planning system is ‘too rigid’ to support modern methods of construction (MMC) to create the homes the nation needs, says a report by construction consultant Arup.

The built environment specialist believes MMC could alleviate the housing crisis in the UK, and is capable of delivering 265,000 extra homes in the next 10 years if a third of new homes were built using MMC.

But reform of the planning system is required for this to happen, says its report How Modern Methods of Construction can Deliver ‘More’ Through the Planning System. It outlines the opportunities and actions that could help planning authorities and other users of the planning system to “reap the rewards available”, explained Arup.

These include smoothing the development management process and training local planning authorities in MMC and its benefits, as well as ensuring local planning policies support using MMC and feature a requirement for developers to show they have considered it.

Another recommendation is to elevate the role of design and responding to place. Perceptions about MMC need changing to promote the design flexibility it offers.

Vicky Evans, residential business leader at Arup and co-author, said: “There’s evidence which shows the current planning system cannot deliver MMC at scale and does not understand the opportunities it offers.

“Our research shows 265,000 extra homes could be built in the next 10 years if one-third of new homes built used modern methods of construction. Developers, local authorities and Homes England must now work together to change attitudes and introduce a streamlined planning process that supports innovative housebuilding.”

Katie Kerr, town planner at Arup and co-author, added: “We see a future system where paper-driven planning applications are replaced with designs direct from digital platforms, selected by the buyer and pre-agreed with the local council, and once consented, are sent straight to the production line.”

The research is part of Arup’s Solving the Housing Crisis series.

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