May 04, 2017

MP learns how offsite construction can meet UK housing needs during tour of Stewart Milne Timber Systems factory

Conservative MP for Witney and West Oxfordshire, Robert Courts, has seen first-hand how offsite construction can meet the UK’s housing needs during a visit to the UK’s leading manufacturer of offsite timber systems.

The MP toured Stewart Milne Timber Systems’ automated facility, which is based in his constituency of Witney.  One of the largest employers in the area, the company provides timber systems for commercial developments and the private and affordable housing markets with the capacity to deliver up to 10,000 homes per year.

During the tour Mr Courts received an introduction to and demonstration of what offsite construction is, and an insight into the ways in which offsite construction can benefit housebuilders, in terms of capacity, volume, speed, cost and quality.

The longstanding challenge of achieving volume in the UK housing market is currently constrained by a range of factors including skills shortages, the planning system, development finance, traditional building methods, land availability, low building rates and the decreasing number of smaller builders.

In a bid to address some of these issues, the UK government set out an ambitious vision of reforms and plans to revolutionise the housing market and increase the supply of new homes in its Housing White Paper, which was published earlier this year.  

The paper outlined Westminster’s plans to “fix the broken housing market” and build more homes across England, requiring a significant shift away from traditional building methods towards industrial construction, with offsite construction using timber systems representing a proven and sustainable solution to industry’s needs.

The White Paper stated that increased adoption of offsite construction with timber systems would be critical to the UK achieving its housing targets as government drives an ambitious agenda of change in the new homes industry. Offsite solutions offer opportunities to significantly improve project quality, deliver increased value, improve productivity and support a more sustainable industry at a time when a step change in housebuilding is required.

Stewart Milne Timber Systems group managing director, Alex Goodfellow, said: “Robert’s visit to the facility is a positive sign that this government is fully committed to championing the case for housing and offsite construction.

“During his visit to our factory and centre of excellence, Robert saw first-hand how offsite timber systems construction has the capacity to deliver housing in a cost effective efficient manner with less waste, higher quality and faster build times. With the publication of the Housing White Paper we are seeing a real commitment from the UK Government to look at how offsite construction can tackle the issues currently facing the industry and we are pleased to see this reflected in engagement with our local MP.”

Mr Courts said: “I am proud to have companies such as Stewart Milne based here in West Oxfordshire.  During my visit, I was able to see first-hand how they are providing innovative solutions to tackling the current homes shortage.  Stewart Milne's offsite construction of timber frames is a great example of how more affordable homes can be built quickly.  Building on the Government's recent White Paper, I look forward to working closely with the company to see what changes can be made to encourage further progress in this area.”

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Timber Research and Development Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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