Accelerating Housing Delivery

John Adams, partner at Deloitte Real Estate, discusses the growing challenge to support housing delivery across the UK amid an evolving housing market.

At MIPIM we hosted events with Cities ranging from Belfast to Berlin, from Manchester to Stockholm and Barcelona.

It was clear that housing delivery is a challenge shared by all cities across Europe.

In the UK the debate tends to be loudest around planning policy. This tends to over shadow other themes. Whilst at MIPM I talked about four of these themes, namely:

skills and talent; technology; the role of the employer; and the need for Place-based Partnerships. Skills and Talent

Sir Oliver Letwin's recently published preliminary findings into the build out of planning permissions identified a number of constraints holding back housing delivery including a limited supply of labour, building materials and capital, amongst others. As a generation of about 200,000 skilled workers approaches retirement, the number of new skilled entrants to the construction industry is not keeping up.

In that context innovation and applying new technology to speed up and make house building more efficient is required.

The construction industry currently spends around £200m on Research and Development, representing 0.9 per cent of total output - this is low compared to other sectors of the economy.

Modular housing is part of the solution. Companies such as Legal & General, Berkeley Homes are already investing in modular off-site factories, and others have introduced their own modular House types, Urban Splash, Pocket Living and Essential Living are all innovating with modular homes.

3D printing and robotics provides a digital technology that can transform the production of building components, and even build whole structures. Could it revolutionise house building in the same way it is predicted to transform production and assembly in other sectors, such as marine and automotive?

Rotterdam, for instance, is actively using 3D printing and applying it to construction and housebuilding with the help of start-up businesses to develop technology and partnerships with universities, young entrepreneurs and the construction industry.

The city has invested100million in a platform for technology-led start-ups and has established a successful building technology hub. Start-ups are collaborating with students from the technical skills university, while the business university - Erasmus - is teaching entrepreneurial skills to...

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