Forticrete welcomes Chancellor's boost to housebuilding
John Lambert, Managing Director at Forticrete, gives his view on the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement as he welcomes boost to housebuilding.
It was no surprise that housing featured heavily in the Chancellor’s Autumn budget. Much of the pre-budget hype focussed on this area, and the Government has been under immense pressure for some time to increase the number of houses built to accommodate the ever-growing population.
In his statement, Phillip Hammond announced new financial support for housing over the next five years, taking the total support for housing to at least £44 billion over this period. At the heart of this is a bold aim to build 300,000 houses on average each year up to 2020. This is an increase from the 250,000 the Government outlined in its ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ report at the start of the year and is perhaps another step in the right direction.
The focus will be to build on sites where planning permission has been granted because the pace at which houses are built is crucial to achieve his goal. The chancellor’s promise to introduce planning reforms will ensure more land is available for planning developments.
Not only do housebuilders need to start building sooner, they should embrace methods which make the process quicker and more cost effective. Material specification is key in achieving this. For example, in areas where planning constraints can slow the path of progress (and add cost to projects) there is a raft of products available. In particular, roofing materials that offer sustainable, cost-effective alternatives to natural stone and slate can be deployed and guaranteed to stand the test of time. Such specification choices offer a win-win for everyone in the supply chain.
A majority of our products are sold to the new build market. As a result, when we design a new product, we do so with ease of deployment in mind. This in response to a need for solutions that are easy to use and appropriate to the current climate where there is a well-documented skills shortage in the construction sector.
There is a risk however that house builders could face lengthy waits due to shortages of popular building materials. Anticipating the growth in demand, suppliers, like ourselves, have invested consistently over the last decade and in more recent times (2016) have invested £8.5m bringing additional roof tile capacity to the market. Not only does this ensure housebuilders attempting to address the housing shortage have the products they need, but so too do the architects looking to ensure their projects enhance the visual appeal of the built environment.
The pressure is on and whether the Chancellor’s proposals to tackle the housing crisis come to fruition remains to be seen.