The North of England is to become the source of a new generation of modern homes, with the region intended to become a ‘construction corridor’, where a line of new homes will serve as a blueprint for a shift towards more environmentally-friendly living, according to housing minister Esther McVey.
Speaking in Sheffield, Ms McVey addressed a number of industry leaders, urging more investment in new technology to help make the North a centre of excellence for modern methods of construction (MMC).
The government estimated that 15,000 homes were built across the UK as a result of MMC in 2015.
The move comes as figures earlier this month revealed that housebuilding in England continued to fall short of the government’s own targets.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond pledged to ensure the creation of 300,000 new homes per annum in England by the mid-2020s, but the actual figures suggested just 170,000 homes were added as new housing stock by the middle of this year.
The future is modular
Ms McVey outlined the benefits of MMC, claiming the shift towards modular housing produced homes that were less likely to be defective, even while ensuring they are considerably more energy-efficient, claiming: “Some modular homes can be built in a factory over a week and assembled on-site in a day.”
Ms McVey added: “Industry has told us some homes built using modern methods can have 80 per cent fewer defects and heating bills up to 70 per cent lower. Homes built using modern methods can be of higher quality, greener and built to last.”
The UK has been slow to adopt the idea of modular homes, according to property consultants Strutt & Parker, as homes were traditionally built using brick or stone, and prefabricated homes were intended as a simple quick fix for a short time only, following the Second World War.
Sarah Curtis, director of London new homes at Strutt & Parker, said: “Many prefab homes are listed in the Housing Defects Act, and unless they’ve been fully refurbished, it’s almost impossible to get a mortgage on one.”
Ms Curtis concluded: “Overcoming this perception is essential, to pave the way for a new generation of modular housing. After all, builders are unlikely to commit to a development of homes labelled by mortgage providers as ‘non-standard’.”
The construction corridor
The government’s ambition to create a ‘construction corridor’ in the North of England is intended to be the UK’s answer to Silicon Valley when it comes to the housing market.
Housing minister Esther McVey explained, saying: “With our emphasis on safety, quality and beauty, we could be the global leaders on 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.”