The housing sector has seen significant growth in the manufacture of Timber Frame as a method of housebuilding in recent years. The last full years statistics show Timber Frame Housing accounting for 27.4% of all new builds in 2015. This ranged from a high of 76% of all new builds in Scotland to 16% uptake in Northern Ireland. For the same period Wales recorded 32% of all new builds in Timber Frame.
This is no longer seen as ‘a quirk of fashion’, but as a serious and compelling proposition to address many of the issues that Government faces. Given the critical shortages of housing on the one hand and the environmental challenges of carbon reduction, cost and speed of build and life-time affordability in the energy cost performance in affordable homes; then Timber Frame more than meets all of these pressing needs.
Coupled with the above, the Welsh Assembly government are keen to build up 20,000 new homes in the life of this Parliament to relieve the pressure on communities from the critical shortage in affordable homes. Much research has been completed on this topic including that by Dr Alan E Hollmans who estimated that in the period 2011-2031, an additional 174,000 houses or flats will be needed in Wales. This equates to a need for 8,700 new homes each year. 60% of which are expected to be in the market sector (5,200 a year, 104,000 over the period), and 40% in the social sector (3,500 a year, 70,000 over the period) He suggested an alternative projection giving a higher estimate of need and demand: 240,000 units over the period, or 12,000 a year; of which 58% would be in the market sector (7,000 a year, 140,000 over the period) and 42% in the social sector (5,000 a year, 100,000 over the period). Either way there is an acute shortage that traditional methods of construction will be slow to meet for a range of reasons including skills, speed of build etc.
This paper is prepared to highlight to the Assembly and the Housing Market in particular that the Timber Frame sector is strong and active throughout Wales, that it has the capacity to deliver the needs of both the public and private sector demands for housing and that it is confident in its ability to respond to demand. It further notes that Timber Frame meets many of the essentials that the Assembly’s ‘Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. The adoption of Timber Frame as a building system provides high quality, affordable, energy efficient homes from largely sustainable materials that minimise the negative impact of carbon on the environment. All contributing to the provision of desirable homes improving the health and well-being of their occupants amongst others. It notes however that for off-site manufactured product to be truly successful, a number of changes are necessary, not least of which is an acceptance by clients that investment in manufacturing capacity requires far greater transparency of forward demand and commitment to the supply side that it will be committed to and delivered.