Timber industry can meet demand for new homes, MPs and peers are told

10 April 2017

MPs and peers heard how the timber frame offsite construction industry is willing and able rise to the challenge of delivering more homes.

The industry has a current capacity of 100,000 units per year and could easily scale up to 150,000 given the right policy frameworks, members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Timber Industries were told.

The meeting was organised by the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) and held at the Housing of Commons, where Stewart Dalgarno, director of product development at Stewart Milne Group, told the audience that housing is the biggest social issue of our time – and a huge economic opportunity.

“The timber industry already has the capacity to help meet this demand and is already delivering around 60,000 units per year using proven offsite construction methods. This is not something for the future, we’re doing this now,” he added.

However, to fully realise the potential of delivering over 150,000 offsite timber frame units per year by 2020 a more “certain and long term commitment” and policy framework is needed.

“Our sector is ready to invest and recruit,” he added. “We can create a Housing Industrial Revolution, creating UK jobs, UK prosperity and UK homes. But, we need that long-term commitment from Government and clients, the visibility of demand that comes with it, to really make this happen.”

The audience was shown a wide range of community developments which had been delivered across the UK using offsite timber-frame construction, including Bicester EcoTown, Glasgow Commonwealth Legacy Village, Derwenthorpe Village, York, and several others.

In addition, case studies of council homes, affordable housing, private housing and private rental sector and student villages were presented to highlight the variety of designs and developments which can be achieved using existing UK timber offsite businesses.

Thomas Hoepfner, co-founder of the New Garden Cities Alliance, and David Birkbeck, chief executive of Design for Homes, also presented examples of exemplar design and development using offsite timber-construction methods.

Chairing the meeting of the APPG, Ian Paisley MP said: “It is clear the timber industry has proven capacity and ability to deliver solutions to the housing crisis, now and in the future. This is a powerful message that needs to get to the heart of Government, particularly the Housing Minister and the Treasury. I, and other members of the APPG, will do our best to help you achieve this.”