Industry News

CTI brings industry and politics together at Labour conference

Left to right: Cllr Hamish MacLeod, Katherine Dunne, David Hopkins, and Cllr Heather Johnson

Both national and local politicians now better recognise the benefits of a stronger partnership between government and the timber industry, following a Confederation of Timber Industries sit down with Labour in Brighton to discuss how timber can help solve the housing crisis.

Politicians present included Chi Onwurah, MP, and Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, as well as Councilor Leo Pollak of Southwark, Councilor Heather Johnson of Camden, and Councilor Katherine Dunne of Hounslow.

Each was welcomed by Hamish MacLeod, Director of Public Affairs with BSW Timber, and David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation, who elaborated on the recent inquiry into housing by the APPG for the Timber Industries, and answered questions.

On a national scale, CTI was pleased to see Ms Onwurah discuss bringing forward an industrial strategy specifically for timber, which acknowledges the importance of growing UK forests and building sustainably in an evolving green economy.

The successful growth of UK Forestry, which accounts for 40% of the volume traded in the UK, was discussed by Mr MacLeod to the politicians who wanted to know what species are being grown, it’s effect on biodiversity, and visions for the future of UK forestry.

He was able to allay some of the concerns regarding biodiversity by both acknowledging the trade-offs made by commercial forestry, as well as to the advancement of forestry techniques, which uses technology, restrictions on monocultures, and is compelled to grow 15% native forests.

Misconceptions regarding the fire performance of timber were also discussed by Councilor’s Pollak, Dunne and Johnson, who raised the difficulty they face post Grenfell in reassuring residents.

Mr Hopkins pointed out that many residents across the UK already unknowingly live in timber buildings, whether they look to their stairs, windows or the furniture in their living rooms, or even to the frame of their house underneath hidden behind a brick façade – all performing well.

When built well, and within the proper specifications, the evidence did not show any increase in risk to life in homes or apartments built with timber over other materials.

Most of the local politicians had been drawn to attend by the sustainability aspects of building in timber, with the impact of major construction projects in their areas top of mind after each had declared climate emergencies.

The timber industry must engage with local councils who are right now building houses around the country, who can be enthusiastic champions, and are able to make a significant impact through their policies – as had been demonstrated by Hackney.

Follow up and engagement opportunities between the CTI and local councils was raised by both parties, with agreement that more needed to be done to highlight the positive tale of timber in the UK. Reflecting on the event, David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation, said:

“We know there is a strong story for the timber industry to tell in terms of construction, skills, and sustainability, and now is the time for businesses to work together to ensure that we align to get a consistent message to all UK politicians – which we will do with this housing report.

“Politicians are interested in building with timber, but it will be up to us to make sure they have the tools and information close to hand to talk to their constituents, and opportunities to work with the housing associations, developers and architects who are determined to change construction.”

Wood For Good produces new video on Build to Rent and Future of Housing

Wood for Good has produced a new video shining the spotlight on the growing Build to Rent sector and examining the unique nature of this market.

According to the British Property Federation, there are now almost 120,000 Build to Rent units already built, under construction or in planning across the UK; a 30% increase over the last year.

Christiane Lellig, campaign director at Wood for Good said: “Build to Rent is becoming increasingly important in the UK housing market. We teamed up with Build to Rent consultancy LIV Consult and property consultancy Gardiner & Theobald to highlight the growing importance of this sector, to examine some of the opportunities and challenges of this market and also to show how the timber industry can play a central role.”

Oliver Booth, partner at property consultancy Gardiner & Theobald, said: “The need for Build to Rent has never been more important. The bottom line is we have an availability of housing crisis in the UK and there are many brave organisations, corporations and institutions stepping up to try and fix that.”

Build to Rent developers and investors are in the market for the long haul; choosing higher-end materials such as engineered timber, both within the building’s fabric and the fit and finish that will stand the test of time.

Designing for efficiency and specifications that will last long term is a distinct separation from the traditional build for sale market, where cheaper materials and finishes are frequently specified to maximise profits for the developer.

Commenting on the unique nature of the Build to Rent market, Ashley Perry, Build to Rent consultancy director at LIV Consult, said: “The Build to Rent market is unique because of its focus on resident experience and efficiency through design, operations and overall long-term use.

“Designers and developers have to understand how efficiently the building can operate as that will drive long term income and capital growth for investors.”

Highlighting the pivotal role the timber industry can play, Oliver Booth said: “A major benefit of engineered timber is that it’s fast to construct and that’s good for the Build to Rent model because we need to build quickly.

“In addition, organisations want to use timber because it’s such a sustainable product. Those materials that are made and can be disposed of in a sustainable way and that contribute to people’s health and wellbeing, will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.”

Typically, Build to Rent schemes target young professionals, students and downsizers who buy into the lifestyle and convenience of well-built properties with a superior fit and finish, and are close to local amenities.

Build to Rent and the future of housing from Wood for Good on Vimeo.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/wood-good-produces-new-video-build-rent-and-future-housing]

David Birkbeck appointed as ambassador and chair of Wood For Good

Wood For Good, the timber industry’s campaign established to promote the use of timber in design and construction, has appointed a new ambassador and committee chair.

David Birkbeck (pictured on the left), Design for Homes’ chief executive, is to lead the Wood for Good campaign, taking over from Craig White, who has been involved since 2013.

David has been at the helm of Design for Homes since 2000. He incorporated it as a social enterprise to promote what works best in housing and campaigns for homes to be better designed and produced in greater volumes.

David will use his extensive experience and industry networks to help Wood for Good push for new opportunities to position timber as a first-choice material in construction, from interiors through to large scale commercial projects.

Discussing the current housing situation in the UK, David says: “Everyone knows the country can’t get anywhere near the level of production it needs without more companies and more solutions in the supply chain."

“The next few years should offer a range of platforms for the timber industry to show its potential and help tackle an increasingly corrosive problem - access to a home."

Christiane Lellig, campaign director for Wood for Good says: “Craig has done a fantastic job with Wood for Good over the past four years and we are lucky to have him as a continued friend to the campaign."

“We are very pleased to have David on board. With the continuing development and growing support for the timber industry, David’s experience and knowledge complements our values and objectives perfectly.”

Craig White says: “During my time with Wood for Good, interest in new timber technologies and methods of construction has grown rapidly. The timber industry is perfectly placed to meet this shifting market demand and Wood for Good will continue to provide valuable support.”

Wood for Good’s objective is to make wood a first-choice material for specifiers and designers by demonstrating that wood is a versatile building material with numerous application possibilities beyond traditional use."

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/david-birkbeck-appointed-ambassador-and-chair-wood-good]

Housing Minister Alok Sharma to be keynote speaker at BMF Members Day

The Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma, will speak at the Builders Merchants Federation’s Members Day on 20th September 2017. 

Mr Sharma, who was appointed to this role in June 2017, is responsible for the government’s housing and home ownership policy as well as the planning policy which underpins it. Other important parts of his current portfolio include estates regeneration and regulation of the private rented sector.  

Mr Sharma was elected as Conservative MP for Reading West in May 2010. Before taking up his current post he was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and has served as a member of the Commons Treasury select committee and the Commons Science and Technology select committee. 

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “A great deal of merchant business is driven by housing but I believe this is the first time that a housing minister has addressed BMF Members Day. We are delighted that Alok Sharma is able to join us this year.” 

BMF Members’ Day 2017 will be held at Jurys Inn Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire. The Business Conference and the BMF’s black-tie Awards Dinner both take place on 20th September. The BMF’s annual Golf Tournament will be held on the previous day, 19th September, along with our other social activities, Quad Biking and Rifle Shooting 

For more information and to book a place at the BMF Members’ Day Event, click here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/housing-minister-alok-sharma-be-keynote-speaker-bmf-members-day]

Timber sector responds to Housing White Paper

Timber sector representative bodies have been giving their reaction to the release of the Government’s Housing White Paper.

The publication – released last Tuesday and aimed at “fixing Britain's broken housing market” - will drive Government construction and housing agenda over the next months.

Key announcements include:

- Expanding the land available for new housing without affecting the Green Belt

- Making housing plans easier to produce

- Supporting developers to build out more quickly also encouraging modern methods of construction and promoting custom-build homes

- Giving communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing

- Providing small firms with a loan to help them deliver 25,000 new homes by 2020

- Attracting institutional and private investment on housing sector

- Addressing skills shortages by growing the construction workforce

- Promoting affordable housing through specific initiatives (i.e. Starter Home, Help to Buy)

Iain McIlwee, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), commented: “What is not to like? The Housing White Paper reaffirms the Government’s commitment to resolve what really is the biggest issue on our socio-economic landscape. Rather than seeking a magic bullet, it is a broad strategy that covers all parts of the housing sector, ensuring that the volume housebuilders are free and encouraged to build on available land, and vitally creating an easier mechanism for the custom housebuilder to literally fill in the gaps. 

 “The strategy addresses the balance between ownership and rental properties. And through repeated reference to quality, it reaffirms that it is not just a numbers game, but seeks to ensure we are building quality properties that will stand the test of time – a strong underlying thinking which is very much a Natural Capital approach of not leaving a mess for future generations. This carries into the section on climate change and wherever possible has a positive impact on employment in the UK. 

 “So I am very relieved to see that the social and environmental opportunities have not been overlooked. The whole timber supply chain is ready to support local authorities in developing policies to support this approach, and of course to ensure that the natural advantages of wood are put to good use in delivering the sustainable housing stock we so desperately need.”

Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA), said: “As Sajid Javid outlined what he called ‘the bold radical vision for the housing market’ and the government’s commitment to support offsite factory built homes, the STA firmly believe that offsite timber construction is the only way to reach the specified target of one million homes by 2020. We welcome the government’s commitment to act as a catalyst for change in the wider housing market, through supporting offsite manufacturing techniques.

As the government pledge support for small and medium size developers, as well as initiatives for self and custom builders – in theory there is a lot of positive content in this White Paper. Making the planning system more accessible and releasing land that is currently in public sector ownership, will certainly have an impact but only time will tell how it works in practise.

The time is right for the construction industry to embrace innovative timber technology and offsite techniques to develop better buildings at a rapid rate to meet government targets, to overcome the shortfall in housing stock and produce energy efficient buildings.”

John Newcomb, Managing Director of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) added: “The Builders Merchants Federation welcomes the Government’s ambitious proposals to boost housebuilding.

“We need more homes, of all tenures, that are built to high standards, use less energy and water, are pleasant to live in, and located where people want to live.

“But building new homes isn’t the whole answer, we also need to make the most of the current housing stock that we have. This is why we welcome the Government’s attempts to encourage later life buyers to down-size, with dignity, to somewhere suitable for them. This then releases larger homes back into the market.”

David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) concluded:  “It is good to see the Government finally wake up and acknowledge the need for greater stimulus in the housing market.

The efforts toward greater use of offsite manufacture, along with moves to bring more SME builders into the market will go a long way toward easing pressure in the sector. It is good news for the timber sector.”

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/timber-sector-responds-housing-white-paper]

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