House of Lords launches enquiry into offsite construction

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is launching an inquiry into offsite construction.

The UK construction industry was worth nearly £100 billion to the UK economy in 2016, a statement from parliament noted. However, it suffers from poor productivity and has not experienced the improvements in productivity seen in other sectors.

The inquiry will consider the potential benefits of off-site construction and any drawbacks and obstacles to its wider use. It will also consider how government policy, particularly around public procurement, might need to change to encourage economically and environmentally sustainable practises in the construction industry that could facilitate off-site manufacture.

The Committee invites submissions, with practical examples where possible, on topics including those mentioned below.

Questions:

  • What are the opportunities offered by off-site manufacture for construction? What are the drawbacks to offsite manufacture for construction?
  • What factors are likely to influence clients, architects, design engineers, contractors and the supply chain to choose or not to choose off-site manufacture?
  • Can the benefits of standardisation and factory manufacture be realised without hampering architectural ambition? If so, how?
  • What R&D is needed, and by whom, to fully realise the potential benefits of off-site manufacture?
  • What changes could be made to public procurement processes to encourage more sustainable practises in the construction industry and facilitate off-site manufacture?

Chair of the Committee, Lord Patel, said, “The construction industry is vital to solving some of the pressing problems facing the UK, such as a lack of affordable housing and replacing ageing infrastructure. Whilst off-site manufacturing is not a new idea, the level of technology now available means it is much more viable as a modern method of construction than it might have been in the past.

“The inquiry will consider how off-site manufacture might contribute to improving productivity within the construction industry and how it will fit in with the Construction sector deal announced by the Government. The Committee encourage all those who are able to inform the inquiry to submit evidence.”

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the issue, to be received by Thursday 26 April 2018, and will start taking oral evidence on the inquiry in April.

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