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The north of England has the potential to become a world-leader in the creation of modern, high-quality homes the Housing Minister Esther McVey tells industry leaders in Sheffield.
During a visit to Factory 2050, part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, she will meet with major developers, small businesses and academics as she announces the Government’s ambition for a new ‘centre of excellence’ for Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in the north.
Today the government housing agency Homes England has also announced funding deals worth £38.2 million with 6 local authorities to speed up the construction of 2,072 homes across the country.
The deals are the latest to be awarded through the government’s £350 million Local Authority Accelerated Construction programme, which was launched to accelerate the delivery of local authority housing schemes and encourages the use of MMC.
Of the potential in the north of England Housing Minister Esther McVey said: “We must invest in this new technology. It’s as simple as that.
“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. In the north of England where the first industrial revolution began.
“With our emphasis on safety, quality and beauty, we could be the global leaders in housing standards. And if we get it right, once the industry matures it could be worth an estimated £40 billion to this country. A new post-Brexit industry.
“To build all these new homes we will need a brand-new workforce to make these homes offsite. Skilled, high quality jobs, for life. 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.”
In order to ensure that the industry has the skills it needs to keep up with advances in technology coming down the line, the government will encourage business to link up with academics across the North – sharing expertise and working together.
The ‘centre of excellence’ will create a new network of people, connected in their aim to boost the use of MMC whilst also sharing ideas and future uses.
Modern methods of construction are being used more frequently, with around 15,000 homes built in 2015 across the country.
During the visit to Factory 2050, the Housing Minister will meet with several apprentices who are working towards qualifications in Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, working with cutting-edge technology day in and day out.
Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, said: “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.
“The Local Authority Accelerated Construction programme supports local authorities to prepare sites for the construction of much-needed new homes and prioritises the use of modern methods of construction to increase the build pace by an average of 40%.”
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.
“I am pleased that government is driving this important initiative and I look forward to helping make this a success in coordination with all key stakeholders.”
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