The Institution for Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has spoken out about UK Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to speed up house building.
Colin Brown, the director of engineering at ImechE, said: "The government needs to be far more radical in its thinking if it wants to deliver an effective solution.
"Reforming the planning system is one approach, but we fundamentally need to look at overhauling the way we construct homes in the UK. Off-site construction technologies have advanced greatly in recent years and can offer shorter build times, better quality, better energy efficiency, less waste, and lower costs for buyers.Â
(The UK has) created a housing supply system that consistently delivers too few homes, of variable quality, at very high costs– Shelter
He said: "We need a minimum of 250,000 houses to be built each year to keep up with the nation’s growing population. At no point over the past two decades has the figure exceeded 180,000, therefore, it is imperative this number is increased so we can meet demand."
The IMechE has produced a position paper on policies that would support the manufacture of affordable, high-quality homes.
This argues that the UK’s housing supply market is widely recognised as being broken, and that the housebuilding industry "consistently delivers too few homes, of variable quality, at very high costs".
As well as a general call for support for offsite manufacturing, it advocated using the Building Regulations and planning systems to promote the development of sustainable homes. In particular, it argues that the decision to wind down the Labour government’s Code for Sustainable Homes, which requires increasingly high levels of energy efficiency, is misguided.
It also recommends that the government work much harder to diversify the UK housing supply market by opening up much greater opportunities for self-builders, local authorities and housing associations.
The government has announced measures on 4 July intended to increase the proportion of self-built homes from 10% to 20%. In the rest of Europe, this accounts for almost half of all new homes.
You can read a report on the subject here.
According to a report by Shelter, a charity that campaigns to end homelessness and bad housing in England and Scotland, the UK has "created a housing supply system that consistently delivers too few homes, of variable quality, at very high costs."
Image: George Osborne speaking at the China-Britain Business Council banquet in London (Wikimedia Commons)