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YHG Comment: Stephen Haigh - An exciting start to 2017

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017, what already appears to be turning in to an exciting time for the housing sector within the UK.

Following on from our joint venture announcement at the back end of last year, the start of 2017 has been heavily focussed on the housing sector and the Governments attempts to tackle the housing deficit. Their announcement on the 2nd January of “14 new garden village and towns” set to be built at various locations across the UK, was Teresa May’s first announcement of 2017 suggests that Housing will be one of the Governments main priorities for the year ahead.

As with all announcements, there are more questions that still need to be answered, such as “what will happen to the green belt land”, “do we have enough infrastructure to handle the volume”, these are questions which will need working through but shouldn’t be a reason for not building, but rather opportunities for new thinking. 

In the whole though, the announcement has been recognised in the positive light it was meant – the kick start needed to reignite house building in the UK if targets are going to be achieved.

Jump ahead another week and the Government make another announcement, this time about their highly anticipated housing white paper. Initially expected in November last year, the paper is now scheduled to be released at the end of January 2017.

Early indications point strongly towards modular housing being one of the “key” components in the paper and the need for new homes to be built quickly and efficiently, if the housing deficit is going to be addressed. Team this with a further statement later in the same week about the potential “tax breaks” for modular housing manufacturers, aimed at invigorating the “failing housing market” and the Government seem to have started 2017 by listening  and suggesting the changes needed.

To me, these announcements are pivotal to the future of house building and should be acted upon sooner rather than later. Rather than energy being put in to rubbishing or likening the modular build processes to the “pre-fab” homes of the 1950’s, we need to act now and start the mind shift towards new innovations for the UK.

Our colleagues in Europe have been building homes using modular construction for over 30 years, the Netherlands and Germany very rarely use traditional methods of construction anymore, why should we not follow suit?

Team the modular construction methods with energy efficiency solutions and you have more homes being built which are affordable to run and maintain for many more people. This will inevitably make our homes and the communities in which they sit much more sustainable, for longer.

Finally, I echo Mr Javid’s comments made recently when he says “I am not pretending it is always going to be easy, but the opposition I am concerned about most of all is what happens if we don’t make these reforms”

We cannot challenge the past if we aren’t able to see the future, a future which has to include large scale modular housing!