Market-leading aircrete manufacturer H+H held an official opening for its newly refurbished Borough Green factory on 14 September: Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, performed the opening itself with the Secretary of State for Housing, Local Government and Communities James Brokenshire also visiting the plant during the day to see the new production facility.
The rebuilding of the factory transforms the 30-year-old plant into the most technically advanced and efficient aircrete plant in Europe. When running at capacity, the plant produces around 20% more volume – enough to build an additional 5,000 houses per year.
With the plant expected to be manufacturing aircrete blocks for the next thirty years, it has also been designed with some significant future-proofing. Blocks produced at Borough Green are manufactured from Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) but given the changes in power generation in the UK it was considered prudent to design the new plant so that increased quantities of sand can be used as and when PFA becomes more difficult to obtain.
The multi-million pound refurbishment project is a resounding vote of confidence from the Danish parent company in the UK economy and housebuilding sector – confidence that was recognised by Tom Tugenhadt, who acknowledged the vital contribution of manufacturers such as H+H to the task of addressing the housing shortage.
This sentiment was echoed later in the day by James Brokenshire, during a private tour of the new plant, who welcomed H+H’s investment in manufacturing technology to support the drive to build new homes.
In an upbeat assessment of the current housebuilding market, Stewart Baseley, Chairman of the Home Builders Federation underlined the confidence of the major housebuilders, pointing to the increasing rate of planning consents and rising number of new house completions as evidence of a vibrant and forward-thinking sector supported by a very “pro-development” government.
The opening day was very much centred on a mood of celebration, recognising the achievements of the team at Borough Green whose commitment, hard work and determination had delivered the construction of the new plant in just four months.
H+H UK Managing Director, Calum Forsyth paid tribute to the teamwork involved in the project, recognising the major contribution of equipment manufacturer Wehrhahn and of project managers VA Consulting. However, he was keen to point out that: “Collaborative working is often the best solution, but the involvement of outside experts in no way diminishes the exceptional work of our own Borough Green team. The commitment and determination to complete this project was beyond extraordinary.”
Kent Arentoft, Chairman of H+H International added his own thanks to the Borough Green team, emphasizing also the significance of this investment, and the importance of the UK market, to the H+H Group as a whole.
This theme was expanded further by H+H International CEO Michael Anderson who gave more detail on the expansion plans for the Group, referencing recent acquisitions in Poland and Germany and touching on an ongoing programme of investment in the portfolio of factories throughout Europe, including an additional UK project involving H+H UK’s Pollington factory.
Many of H+Hs major merchant and housebuilding customers attended the opening and paid tribute to the way H+H had managed the refurbishment project, ensuring customers were kept fully informed at every step of the process and product supply managed with huge efficiency to minimise disruption to supply agreements.