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Offsite construction and the Affordable Housing Supply Programme

A note setting out current thinking about offsite construction for the delivery of new homes through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.


Introduction

The potential of increased use of offsite construction (also referred to as modern methods of construction or MMC) has been viewed as an opportunity for new build housing development for many years. 

In particular, previous research has shown real potential to support industry and Government to deliver more and more efficient homes, and to help us address challenges including workforce demand and diversity, the need to reduce waste and energy efficiency and improve quality while controlling cost pressures.

We are also providing support for a number of partners in industry, public authorities and others for the development and delivery of the Edinburgh Home Demonstrator project; an important opportunity to see the effects of wider adoption of this model on the ground.

The Scottish Government already supports delivery of homes across Scotland using a range of offsite methods, from timber frame construction through to fully modular development, and will continue to do through our Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP). We will continue to support proven approaches that balance improvements with value – and work with all across the housebuilding sector to achieve Scotland’s net zero ambitions.

Developing a business case and strategy

Throughout 2021, considerable work was undertaken with stakeholders to understand the experience of modern methods of construction in the affordable housing sector and inform how greater use could be made of offsite construction through developing a national strategy.

In recognition of the significant opportunity that the new 110,000 target brings for social, economic and environmental benefits and the potential impact on funding, housing delivery and the supply chain of any new national approach, the next phase of this work is to develop a business case.  The outcome of the business case will inform a broader, net-zero new homes strategy for the affordable housing sector.

Growing the evidence base and realising the potential benefits

The Scottish Government will seek input from interested stakeholders, including local authorities and registered social landlords, to support the business case.

A number of valued partners in industry, public authorities and others are undertaking detailed project work on the development and delivery of the Edinburgh Home Demonstrator project which seeks over 3 phases to demonstrate on the ground the potential benefits previously highlighted in research.

This work is exploring a range of issues, including:

  • the experience of people living in new, energy efficient homes delivered by offsite methods, supporting and learning from improvements in delivering homes that perform as designed with lower variations in efficiency;
  • the benefits of standardising component and build structures to support greater efficiencies in manufacturing and housing delivery while continuing to support individual site, home and place character in various localities;
  • the realisable potential of collaborative working and procurement to deliver further savings and delivery at scale.

While all phases will deliver longer-term evidence, we will use outputs and evidence from this project and other offsite delivery in all parts of Scotland to support the business case and longer-term approach to delivering net-zero affordable homes across Scotland.

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