Welcome to Fortified, the latest edition of our online newsletter designed to provide you with everything you need to know about the latest industry issues, innovative solutions and awe-inspiring projects.
Despite the uncertainty that surrounded May’s General Election, the UK construction recovery appears set to continue through 2015 as enquiries and orders continue to translate into activity on the ground, contributing to steady and consistent growth. As a result, building product manufacturers across the country are currently investing in new facilities and expanding their workforce in a bid to deliver the growing demand for construction materials.
According to the Construction Products Association, this increased activity in Q1 was led by the private housing sector, in which 54% of firms, on balance, reported a rise in output. The same however, couldn’t be said for the public housing sector which saw 45% of firms report a decrease in output. Increased output was however reported in the commercial sector, the largest construction sector, where 23% of firms, on balance, saw rising volumes of offices and retail work.
Optimism in the housing sector in particular is further highlighted by the 40,300 housing starts in Q1, the highest number of housing starts achieved in a quarter since 2007. Housebuilding hotspots include Manchester, where housing starts have increased by 84% over the year and Winchester, where starts have increased by a staggering 120%. What’s more, in the last 12 months, 112,630 homes were completed across the UK, a significant uplift from the 107,820 recorded at the same point last year (Department for Communities and Local Government).
While it’s extremely pleasing to see housebuilding finally moving in the right direction, it’s important to take stock of the sobering fact that these figures are still only around half of the 250,000 homes needed to deal with the UK’s chronic housing shortage.
There is also much debate surrounding the Government’s shock decision to scrap its 2016 zero carbon homes target (which you can read more about here), putting an end to a decade of effort to define a standard for new homes that would support the UK’s drive to reduce emissions from new housing.
The jury was out as to whether the government could successfully balance the delivery of zero carbon homes without jeopardising the supply of new homes across the UK. Therefore, with zero carbon 2016 now redundant, will the path for the delivery of new homes be eased? With the underwhelming performance of The Green Deal, coupled with the unexpected Zero Carbon announcement, it remains to be seen whether the UK construction industry can deliver genuinely energy efficienthomes in the next 12 months or so.
In this issue, we show how concrete can strike the perfect balance between aesthetics and support the Government’s long term vision for a low carbon economy. This includes how to deliver awe-inspiring, non-distracting internal design with our new Blue masonry block range; as well as how our reflective, decorative walling delivered a spectacular finish for The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust’s new multi-million pound exhibition and visitor centre.
We hope you enjoy our latest issue and invite you to share any feedback.
John Lambert, Director & General Manager,