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RCI January 2018

Zink INDUSTRY NEWS 01992 801927 www.almhm.co.uk Consumers are twice as likely to be satisfied with homes built by SMEs, says FMB “Government needs to understand the needs of business for Brexit negotiations” 008 JANUARY 2018 RCIMAG.COM Copper Stainless More than 90% of MPs think that converting empty spaces above shops could help reverse the current housing shortage, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). The survey results, which have been published alongside a new research report by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) entitled ‘Homes on our high streets’, shows that MPs believe converting empty spaces above shops could have a number of positive consequences, including: • 94% of MPs believe it could reverse the housing shortage in their constituency; • 89% of MPs say it could boost local growth in their area; • 86% of MPs think it could have a positive impact on the vibrancy of their town centres. Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “It is estimated that as many as 300,000 to 400,000 new homes could be created by making use of empty spaces above shops on our high streets. This is space just waiting to be turned into residential accommodation. The fact that 90% of MPs of all parties recognise the potential of our existing buildings to help solve the housing crisis means we need to be more imaginative if we are going to build the 300,000 homes a year that the Chancellor pledged in last month’s Budget.” Berry continued: “Taking a number of case studies from town centres from right across Great Britain, our research highlights the opportunities that exist for creating new homes in a range of different building types. It demonstrates what could be achieved by innovative and ambitious development. The report puts councils at the heart of the solution and suggests some practical ways for them to facilitate the development of wasted space above shops. Local authorities should include proposals to make use of these empty spaces in their planning documents and also help find ways to overcome the various barriers, such as limited building access, so that we can tap into this much-needed source of additional housing supply. Building new homes is important, but a great deal can also be achieved through making better use of our existing buildings.” Berry concluded: “Over the past decade, as consumer habits have changed with the rise of online shopping, high streets are struggling to remain relevant. There will always be a place for vibrant high streets within our market towns but if not all of this space can be used for commercial reasons, let’s make use of it for residential and help increase the supply of new homes. These sorts of properties would be ideal for young professionals, or young families just starting out, as they benefit from good transport links and are close to shops, bars and restaurants. What we must avoid is perfectly good space lying empty and achieving nothing in terms of boosting the local economy or housing individuals and families.” Welcoming the announcement on Friday, December 8, of a deal at stage one of the Brexit negotiations, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) is calling on the Government to better understand the needs of British business as it begins trade negotiations. Ian Cass, managing director of the Forum, said: “We’re delighted the initial wrangling is over and that the talks will now be about trade, but before negotiations start on this, we feel that the Government needs to better understand what businesses want from a trade deal and how they can best support them, which is something we’ve outlined in our ‘Get Britain Trading’ campaign.” As part of the Get Britain Trading campaign, the FPB are offering politicians the chance to work alongside businesses so they can better understand the struggles they deal with and provide the support they desperately need from government. Ian Cass added: “If British business is to succeed post-Brexit then we need to get the right deal. That means politicians listening to the business community now.” In other news, in a joint press conference in Brussels, Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed that the UK and the EU will progress their negotiations to talk about future transition periods and trade relations. The deal stated that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will have their rights guaranteed, and the UK has agreed to settle its financial commitment with the EU over a number of years. The National Federation of Builders (NFB) congratulates the Government on making sure that negotiations to leave the EU have moved onto the next round, but the hardest part is still to come. The NFB urges the Government to focus on achieving a final withdrawal agreement that addresses the main demands of the Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto. Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “The worst enemy of businesses, especially SMEs, is uncertainty. We welcome the positive developments in the Brexit negotiations with the ambition to secure a good Brexit deal for construction SMEs, in line with the priorities set out in the Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto.” Consumers are twice as likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of their new home if it was built by a small and medium-sized (SME) housebuilder, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Key results from the FMB’s research into satisfaction rates among people who have bought a home in the past five years show that twice as many people (36%) say they are ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of their new-build home if purchased from an SME housebuilder, compared with those whose home was built by one of the top 20 large builders (17%). Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “There is a popular misconception that new-build homes are poor quality compared to period properties that were built to last. Small local housebuilders, who hang their hat on delivering high-quality new-build homes, find this view immensely frustrating. Our research shows that you are twice as likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of your new home if it was built by an SME housebuilder as opposed to one of the large top 20 firms. This research draws a clear distinction between what is being delivered by SMEs and what is being delivered by larger firms.” Berry continued: “For a small, local builder, reputation is everything. They will typically reside in the same community that they’re building in and are therefore doubly motivated to deliver a high-quality product that the home-buyer will love. Furthermore, SME building firms are more likely to work with a small team of broadly skilled tradespeople. For example, if an SME housebuilder only employs three bricklayers, they all need to have a wide range of skills and experience. Large housebuilders tend to use gangs of semi-skilled bricklayers who can lay row upon row of bricks in a line but only a handful of broadly skilled ‘brickies’ who can turn corners, build chimneys and arches.” Berry concluded: “If we are to improve the image of the housebuilding sector, all housebuilders, large and small, need to put quality at the heart of every project. Not only will this make our industry more attractive to new entrants, including children and young people, it will soften planning committees to the prospect of new developments. We are in the midst of a serious housing crisis and in order to win people over and make them more pro-development, we need to deliver fantastic new homes that local people would be proud to have built in their community.” Is space above shops an existing answer to our housing crisis?


RCI January 2018
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