New workshops explore offsite affordable home benefits

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart launches the workshops

THE first of a series of workshops aimed at to exploring ways to increase offsite construction of affordable homes in Scotland was launched recently.

The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) at Hamilton International Technology Park was the venue for the event, opened by the Scottish Government’s housing minister, Kevin Stewart MSP.

 The Scottish Government is keen to consider ways of maximising the value achieved through its Affordable Housing Supply Programme and wishes to explore the potential for greater use of offsite techniques to potentially speed up the construction process, reduce costs and address skills and labour shortages within the sector.

Currently around 80% of housing in Scotland is built using timber frame, however only a small percentage is said to use the ‘more advanced’ forms of offsite construction.

 The workshops are part of a wider collaborative project to investigate increasing offsite construction in housing, particularly in the affordable sector. 

The collaboration between CSIC, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, which commenced in October last year, aims to provide recommendations to the Government and the affordable housing sector to help influence future policy.

 The project has been supported by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Offsite Solutions Scotland, Homes for Scotland, ALACHO and COSLA via a steering panel who have provided guidance throughout the project.

 Phase 1 identified the challenges, issues and barriers that the affordable housing sector faces, and assessed the ability of the offsite industry to meet these challenges. 

The second phase examined the current and future capacity of the offsite industry through mapping existing companies, their capabilities and their development plans. 

Phases 1 and 2 have been led by teams from Edinburgh Napier University.

 The workshops form part of Phase 3, which will see stakeholders working together to co-design and test possible solutions. 

Led by the Innovation School at the Glasgow School of Art, the workshops will bring together perspectives from across the affordable housing sector, from procurement to design and build and delivery. 

They will explore the innovation challenge and opportunity around offsite, looking in detail at the areas of funding, procurement, culture, perceptions, design, performance, resources and skills.

 Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said, “Everyone deserves a safe, warm, affordable place to call home. I believe that greater use of offsite construction could help modernise the way we deliver affordable homes. I am pleased to see people from all disciplines working together to maximise the opportunities available to the sector.”

Stephen Good, CSIC chief executive said the outcomes of the workshops and wider project will be made available this summer.