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BSRIA encouraged by current wave of house building announcementsJanuary 2016


Julia Evans OBE, Chief Executive, BSRIA
BSRIA is encouraged by a recent wave of house building announcements, but is concerned with how they will be executed due to the industry skills shortage.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced it will sell off a dozen of its sites to raise £500m and provide land for 15,000 homes. Defence minister Mark Lancaster said the money from the sale will be ploughed back into defence budgets, with the land used to help the government target of building 160,000 homes by 2020.

The 12 sites form the first tranche to be sold off by the MoD. The department plans to raise £1bn in total through land sales, contributing 55,000 homes to the government target. It will announce further sites to be sold in due course throughout 2016.

Housebuilder Barratt has reported a nine per cent rise in housing completions in the six months to 31st December 2015, completing 7,626 homes over the period. The firm has said the increase has kept it on course to deliver its target of 16,750 by the end of the financial year in June. It has invested in training and recruitment programmes to address the need for skilled labour.

Solar firm WElink Energy, which has offices across the world, plans to work with China National Building Materials (CNBM) – a Fortune Global 500 company – to develop and build 8,000 zero carbon homes across the UK in a £1.1bn deal. Construction of the first 4,000 homes will begin this year and be completed by 2018.

The homes will be built using a low-cost housing solution called the Barcelona Housing System (BHS), a pre-engineered construction technique. Since there is no cement or water usage or zero waste – these ‘modular homes’ aim to meet ambitious affordable homes targets. British Solar Renewables has been awarded a contract to supply and install roof-top solar panels and energy components on the homes.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “Collectively these projects represent good news for both the construction and housing industries and for those trying to get on the housing ladder – especially with the affordable housing on the cards. This will help hugely with the current appetite for first time buyers. The ‘offsite’ and zero waste methods that are being adopted is also an exciting development. But BSRIA asks how are these houses going to be built when there is a severe skills shortage in the house building industry? We acknowledge the investment being carried out by Barratt and hope that that could trigger other housebuilders to follow suit.”

The MoD 12 sites to be sold are:

• Kneller Hall, Twickenham
• Claro and Deverell barracks, Ripon
• RAF sites Molesworth and Alconbury, Cambridgeshire & Mildenhall, Suffolk
• Lodge Hill, Kent
• Craigiehall, Edinburgh
• HMS Nelson Wardroom, Portsmouth
• Hullavington Airfield, Wiltshire
• RAF Barnham, Suffolk
• MOD Feltham, London

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