View from NaCSBA
To promote housing diversity and unlock potential for 130,000 new homes, the National Custom and Self Build Association has united with the Federation of Master Builders, UK Cohousing Network and National Community Land Trust Network to create new group, Housing Diversification. RIBAJ ask group spokesman and NaCSBA CEO Andrew Baddeley Chappell why it’s needed.
Q: The NPPF allocates 10% of homes in major developments as affordable to meet the Letwin Review’s need for housing for older people and students, Build to Rent and self-build. What else do you seek?
Yes, but it’s whether that’s been addressed. The government says in its own 2017 White Paper that there’s insufficient competition and innovation in the housing market and it needs to diversify to increase the amount, choice and quality of housing that people want. Regarding the proportion of self-commissioned new homes, the UK’s a global outlier. On average it’s about 40% of new homes – in England it’s 5% – yet we think our housing market is ‘normal’. Think about it: in a world where we buy new everything, isn’t that strange?
Q: A diversity taskforce, renewed Community Housing Fund in the CSR, accountability for reporting on housing diversity – that’s a lot of asks...
That White Paper set out three pillars of housing strategy – one was housing diversification, but there’s still no breakdown of how many houses built were delivered that way. A good start point would be measuring performance and engaging with those making up the sector to deliver policy and action.
What about Local Plan Strategic Market Housing Assessments? Do you want policy embedded in DPP3 processes?
England’s NPPF sets out a need to deliver housing on assessed need, including custom and self-build homes. The 2016 Housing & Planning Act put a legal duty on LAs to keep a register of those wanting to build their own homes and ensure sufficient plots are permissioned to match the need. It aimed to double numbers of self-commissioned homes and aid small builders recovering from the 2009 recession, whose market share had dropped as a result.
Homes England has to deliver the government’s housing agenda – that includes diversification. It focusses on quantity, not quality and mix. Its systems are geared to a small number of larger organisations, but hopefully it’s addressing this through a new DPP commissioning and DPS (Dynamic Purchasing System), allowing it to deal at smaller scale with more locally focussed groups.
Could you write housing diversity demands into design codes and concentrate on diversification of small sites rather than as LA wide blanket policies?
First, the planning White Paper explicitly says it will make more use of public land for community and self-build projects; secondly, small sites suit self-build or custom homes. It also proposes that every part of the country has three zones, each of which can have sub zones with their own design guides. These are common in custom and self-build anyway, making them better planned, more contextual and sustainable.
Would concentrating on small sites only free up stalled planning on larger developers’ sites so they could build more quickly?
It’s more about the landowner I think. Do you want to sell wholesale to a large developer or retail as small parcels? Which would maximise your land value? There’s a strong argument for splitting larger sites into plots and if the UK is going to catch up with mainland Europe, diversification is needed on large sites too and be planned in from the get-go. The more people see diverse homes being delivered, the more they’ll want to live in them. The competition would change the habits of the volume housebuilders too.
Off-site, MMC and DfMA underline the need for Modular to be Customisable. The wish of Self-Builders as well as most UK Builders to deliver excellent customer service and top notch homes is now driving an increasing number to choose Modular Off-Site for their developments. And as ‘OffSite Hub” notes, architects and designers are moving toward DfMA, something we have been encouraging for over 20 years. The emergence of LA Developers will only speed up this process
Learn & Earn with DfMA
Applying DfMA (Design for Manufacture & Assembly) to lightweight structures defines the process of taking these to the next level. For example, standard designs from our very low rise ‘SolidLox’ brand enable us to provide buildings that do not require massive foundations and which can avoid harming tree roots while delivering on time and within budget.
Such projects require a systematic, solution driven approach which brings discipline to the process, sharing information and communications.; a welcome change in the overall approach to project management and development – and to those who just ‘talk about it’!
Saving Waste – from Concept to Clearance
Modular Off-site MMC SIP & Timber Frame structures provide excellent ways to save waste and deliver top energy rated homes. Working with architects, planners and environmentalists to satisfy all types of design, we are already well on the way to incorporating waste reduction measures into our procedures and processes. This means our ‘Volumetric’ and ‘Flat pack’ modular building solutions envisaging ultimate demolition and clearance can ‘tread lightly on the earth’ as we adapt business innovations and developments to environmental needs.
Partnering for Modular Progress
All of this entails a shift in thinking to that already practiced by established ‘Off-Site’ MMC manufacturers. It can be quickly and easily incorporated into procedures and processes of building and development. Better still, you can make partnering arrangements with such manufacturers to gain all round benefits.
Greater Speed, Accuracy, Quality and Lower Costs
Greater collaborative ‘partnering’ between architects, builders and manufacturers will deliver these. The greater speed, accuracy and quality that can result from manufacturing components in a dry, controlled factory environment, together with the ability tom incorporate (yet to be invented) ‘Smart Ware’ gives home builders perhaps the only way of achieving this, together with improved on-site build quality AND controlling costs.
Easy Timber Frame
To assist them in doing so our “Easy Timber Frame “ now offers standard size modular timber frame elements for them to use as a design base, cutting down on technical design and engineering to produce win-win results. This virtually provides any housebuilder or architect with their own bespoke design factory facility.