Housing crisis demands new approach

  • The number of new homes built each year needs to double
  • Multi-faceted approach is required to solve the crisis
  • Faster, innovative construction techniques are key

Stephen Trusler

The UK housing shortage means we need to target building twice as many homes of all tenures annually to meet demand and curb runaway house price inflation.

However, the fact is supply has not kept up with demand for a very long time. Back in the 1960s and 1970s we were building over 300,000 homes a year, a third of them through private house builders and the remainder government subsidised. 

The private element has remained consistent but since the early 1980s state-supported builds – for buying, renting, and shared ownership – dwindled from 200,000 to 25,000 homes annually, mostly through housing associations, with local authorities delivering just 2,000.

But as a government white paper on the housing shortage acknowledged earlier this year, there’s no silver bullet and a multi-faceted solution is needed along with some different thinking. 

Just 10 major house builders construct more than 60% of all homes. So, more players need to be involved and work together to sort this problem – including small and medium sized companies, construction organisations, councils and housing associations.

The public sector in all its guises could also be pushed harder. For example, local authorities could be empowered to launch house-building programmes by raising the caps on how much they can borrow for home construction. 

More surplus public land ought to be made available for housing, but rather than selling off to the highest bidder hoping it gets developed, government should consider more innovative solutions to ensure immediate delivery. In addition, public landowners should consider directly commissioning contractors to construct specific affordable housing projects.

The white paper also recognised that homes could be built faster using more modern methods of construction – and that’s our forte.

As an innovative contractor we can build homes to a better standard, quicker and more cost-effectively than traditional construction approaches, thanks to the advanced off-site manufacturing and modular construction techniques we’ve developed.

We have expertise in design, manufacturing and in smart digitised construction and already have capacity to manufacture 3,000 dwellings annually. Looking to the future we’re investigating the potential of building a new manufacturing facility next to our existing one near Worksop, Nottinghamshire enabling us to deliver up to 10,000 modular homes annually.

We’ve been talking to ministers and government officials and showing them some of our housing projects around the UK and they’ve been interested in what we can do. 

Beating the housing crisis is a massive challenge and we want to play a major part in it.

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