[Albert Owen in the Chair] — Prefabricated Housing

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:44 am on 4th November 2015.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun 9:44 am, 4th November 2015

I agree. When I was a councillor I was also chair of planning, and I know that the number of vehicle movements drives a lot of objections from local residents. I was in committees where we debated planning conditions to control and limit the times of movements. If we had a system that much reduced vehicle movements in the first place, that could certainly speed up planning and take some of the heat out of those considerations.

Off-site construction clearly speeds up the construction process. The trick is to have utilities on site ready for assembly. Utilities are the one risk to construction programmes, but that risk exists in traditional build as well. I am sure we have all heard about problems with getting utility companies to stick to their programme and engage with developers. As we increase the number of off-site constructions, we need to ensure that the utility companies are up to speed and do not cause delays, because delays inevitably mean that people do not get into their new-build homes quick enough.

I have outlined the advantages of this type of construction, which has seen real growth in Scotland. I want to highlight a couple of specialist companies—it is no surprise that we already have such companies operating in Scotland. Rural House, based in Skye, does more robust prefabricated designs for the more inclement highland weather. Its houses are also aesthetically pleasing; they are designed to look like traditional steadings.

In my neck of the woods, but in a neighbouring constituency, there is the Wee House Company, which was started up by an entrepreneurial 22-year-old. It can produce one or two-bedroom models in three weeks, with costs that start at £68,000. In a debate the other day there was much discussion about what was deemed affordable housing, but it is clear that units that start at £68,000 fall in that bracket.

Off-site construction has a real future in the house building industry. To steal a quote, “Let’s not call it prefabrication.”