James Knight, Head of Residential, Arcadis, reacted to the news that nearly half a million homes are yet to be built by calling for “fresh, radical thinking” from industry and government alike.
“With the UK population projected to increase by an additional 10 million in the next 25 years, the private sector alone will never be able to meet the required number of new homes. The influence of the wider economy and market cycles as a barrier to long term planning is why we can’t have a strategy solely reliant on private sector-delivered homes-for-sale.
“This needs to be augmented by a public sector-led or enabled supply, spread across affordable and social rent, shared ownership, private rent, private- for-sale and later living products.”
He also noted the need for creating the right conditions to invest in people and production innovation:
“Due to growth elsewhere in the industry and high rates of retirement, construction overall faces having to recruit 1 million new people by 2020. With barely 20,000 trainees entering the industry each year and unemployment at lower levels than in 2007/8, housebuilders will either have to find new sources of skills – for example, sourcing from outside the industry, training new entrants, or migration – or will need to reduce their labour requirements by changing the product using manufacturing techniques.”
“This is now about the need for fresh, radical thinking from both industry and government, which respects the existing housebuilding model but also seeks out viable routes to large-scale, additional delivery.
“This means connecting long term money to income-led housing investment opportunities spanning multiple economic and political cycles. This in turn starts to create the right investment climate for industrialised production and skills development.
“We need the political will to ensure that construction and manufacturing are seen as viable, long-term career options, and thereby start to overcome the existing labour constraints affecting traditional, site based delivery.”