Construction Work Restarts On 350 Housebuilding Sites

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Construction Work Restarts On 350 Housebuilding Sites

Construction Work Restarts On 350 Housebuilding Sites

News that will certainly prove heartening for those in the construction industry has arrived this week (May 4th), with reports incoming that work has begun on almost 350 separate housebuilding sites around the country following lockdown-related closures.

According to figures from construction data firm Barbour ABI, seen by Housing Today, 334 schemes have now restarted, with these projects expected to produce over 50,000 homes.

This decision to reopen sites comes after almost three-quarters of all housebuilding sites moved to shut up shop in March as lockdown was launched on the 23rd of the month. These 344 jobs have an estimated construction value of approximately £7.8 billion, representing 11 per cent of the industry’s current pipeline of 3,000 projects in the construction phase.

Tom Hall, Barbour ABI chief economist, said: “Over the course of the week many of the major housebuilders have announced a reopening of sites, we expect this to continue to increase over the coming weeks. The volume of restarted projects will continue to increase over the coming weeks as housebuilders that have confirmed they will return to site carry out their plans.”

These figures are unlikely to include restarts announced by major housebuilders in the last ten days, however. Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Redro and Bellway are all due to start this week, while Vistry said it had expected to restart schemes last week. Barratt, meanwhile, will not be opening sites for another seven days.

Both the Home Builders’ Federation (HBF) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have now issued a call for lockdown rules to be relaxed for the housing market to help prevent a drop in the volume of new builds.

According to Building.co.uk, lockdown restrictions have seen sales offices and marketing suites closed, while existing homeowners have been unable to sell their properties – which means there won’t be many out there currently in a position to purchase a new build.

Executive chairman of the HBF Stewart Baseley explained that the organisation is now working with the government to work out how guidelines can be eased, but added that the  restrictions as they are now means there will be a “limit to how much activity can proceed until the government feels able to update this guidance. Government has a role to play here working with industry to help coordinate and support a restart”.

The firms that have started to remobilise their workforces and start building once again have now warned that this is being done on a gradual basis. Bellway, for example, said its primary focus would be on those sites that are nearing completion, while Redrow explained that it wouldn’t be returning to normal conditions until advice regarding moving home is relaxed.

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