Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Memoranda submitted by Yorkon and John Miles

Examination of Witnesses(Questions 317-319)




  317. Can I welcome you to the Committee. Could I ask you to identify yourselves for the record, please.
  (Mr Blanshard) I am Keith Blanshard from Yorkon Limited, part of the Portakabin Group.
  (Mr Sherwood) Mike Sherwood from Yorkon Limited, part of the Portakabin Group.
  (Mr Miles) John Miles from ARUP.

  Chairman: Do any of you want to say anything by way of introduction or are you happy for us to go straight to questions? Then we will go straight to questions.

Chris Mole

  318. I have a tall wood(?) department in my constituency that does off-site manufacturing and off-site fabrication, but could you share with the Committee what some of the potential of this sort of approach, outside of temporary homes as well, has to offer.
  (Mr Blanshard) First of all, off-site manufacturing has an incredible amount of opportunity to actually deliver things in half the time with the right quality. You actually mentioned the words "temporary homes" but that is not something which Yorkon has concentrated on, it has really been looking at modular construction, using steel frame and actually producing rooms down the production line in the same way as you produce cars. So, as far as opportunity is concerned, it is considerable. It really depends on how much investment the commercial world is prepared to put into it.
  (Mr Miles) I would only add to that from a different perspective, the opportunity is to fulfill the need, which really comes about because the industry as it is currently structured probably does not have the capacity to fulfil the need, so there is a need to do it in a different way. The bottom line is that there is lots of opportunity for high quality permanent jobs. Temporary housing is not particularly high on that agenda.

  319. So you are talking about the challenges in the construction industry of finding the right skills to do on-site manufacture. What does the off-site fabrication industry have by way of capacity to build in future years, tens of thousands/hundreds of thousands of units?
  (Mr Miles) As it stands at the moment, it does not have the capacity to deliver hundreds of thousands. It might stretch to a capacity of 10,000 or so. What we are looking at really is the opportunity to develop that industry in order that it can fulfill up to 100,000 or thereabouts, given that we expect the build rates in this country over the next 20 years to move upwards from 150,000 rather than downwards, and perhaps a signification portion of that volume could be built out of factories quite realistically to a very high standard.
  (Mr Blanshard) We have committed ourselves to a leap of faith. We have put a new production line down for producing 600 apartments a year. That is very small in relation to what John Miles is saying but it is a demonstration of the future.
  (Mr Sherwood) Up to now, only a certain number of players out there have been prepared to put their toe in the water, so to speak, but we certainly believe that it has been proved to those who have that they have made the right choice and that they are happy with what they have received, but it is only a few players who have been prepared to do it so far.

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