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Research to assess potential of modern methods of construction

Words: Laura Edgar
Off-site housing construction / Shutterstock_509242891

The government’s housing agency Homes England wants to understand how modern methods of construction (MMC) can help meet the country's housing targets.

As part of its objective to improve construction productivity and encourage the uptake of MMC to deliver housing, a number of Homes England’s own sites will be part of a study.

The study will involve monitoring the construction of around 1,500 homes at different sites across England over several years. The performance of different methods will be considered to provide “long-term, in-depth and verifiable data so that informed decisions about emerging construction technologies can be made”.

Sites that will be part of the study include:

Northstowe Phase 2a - A 406-home 100 per cent MMC neighbourhood in Cambridgeshire being brought forward by House by Urban Splash, a partnership between Urban Splash, Sekisui House and Homes England. The modular homes will be manufactured in the House factory in Alfreton, East Midlands.
Spencer’s Park in Hemel Hempstead - A 600-home development by Countryside, where all the homes will be closed panel timber frame units.
A 87-home development on York Road in Birmingham - Delivered by Vistry Partnerships, the homes will be built using a timber frame closed panel system assembled on site.

Homes England said the research will explore a range of themes, including cost and pace of build, which will be compared to traditional building methods, as well as the skills required, safety performance, snagging and defect issues, construction wastage, energy efficiency performance and post-occupation performance. 

Atkins and Faithful+Gould will be Homes England’s research and development partner on the research project, and they will work alongside the Building Research Establishment and University College London.

Nick Walkley, chief executive of Homes England, said:

“If we are to deliver homes at the scale, pace and quality the country needs, we have to seriously shake up how we build homes in England. This is at the very heart of our mission and it means embracing new technologies like modern methods of construction.

“Despite the impact of coronavirus being felt across the housebuilding sector, Homes England is open for business. We can be certain that the demand for high-quality homes will remain and concerns about labour supply or quality will not go away.

“Now more than ever, we recognise that more needs to be done to share learning and build confidence in MMC. This large-scale, long-term and in-depth research project will provide the sector with the critical evidence it needs to make informed decisions about MMC and deliver better homes faster.”