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House of Lords Launches Enquiry into Offsite Construction

The House of Lords is preparing for an inquiry into offsite manufacture via its Science and Technology Committee.

A statement from parliament noted that in 2016, the construction industry contributed close to £100 billion to the national economy. The main concern is that it is experiencing serious productivity issues and lacking the productivity improvements that other sectors have reported.

The proceedings will explore the possible benefits of offsite construction and possible problems or obstacles that would affect its wider application. It will also consider how UK government policy, especially where public procurement is concerned, might have to be modified to encourage environmentally and economically sustainable construction industry practises that could support offsite manufacture.

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The Committee is presently inviting submissions, along with practical examples whenever possible, on a wide range of topics, some of which are listed below.

Questions:

  • What opportunities does offsite manufacture present for the construction industry? Alternatively, what are the potential drawbacks?
  • What are the factors most like to influence clients, design engineers, architects, contractors, and supply chain companies to decide for or against offsite manufacture?
  • Can the advantage of factory manufacture and standardisation be realised without having a negative effect on architectural innovation?
  • What R&D will be necessary to properly realise the possible benefits of offsite construction, and who should carry it out?
  • What changes could be applied to the processes of public procurement to enable and encourage more sustainable construction industry practises and facilitate offsite construction?

Committee chair Lord Patel said that construction industry has an important role to play in resolving some of the urgent problems that Britain faces, such as replacing an ageing infrastructure and tackling the affordable housing shortage. Whilst offsite construction is not a new concept, the degree of technology now available means that as a modern construction method, it is much more viable than it might have been at one time.

Lord Patel said that the inquiry will discuss the ways that offsite manufacture might help increase productivity within the construction industry and how it will fit in with the Government’s newest construction sector deal. He confirmed that the committee will encourage everyone with useful information to submit their evidence.

The committee is encouraging the public to submit written evidence on the matter. The deadline for information submission is April 26 and oral evidence will be taken soon afterwards.

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