Hertfordshire’s leading organisations are committing to sustainable housebuilding, which will see the county use offsite manufacturing (OSM) and modern methods of construction (MMC), to accelerate the delivery of sustainable homes.

An informal consortium of nearly 20 housing providers, led by Watford Community Housing and supported by Hertfordshire LEP, Herts Innovation Quarter (IQ) and Hertfordshire Growth Board, has committed to scale up its use of OSM methods to speed up the progress of the county’s target to build 100,000 new homes by 2036, and enable the county to meet its net zero carbon targets.

The Hertfordshire Offsite Manufacturing Programme is streamlining the operational route to delivery by adapting planning policies, procurement routes and operational approaches to support the use of OSM to deliver sustainable growth for Hertfordshire. Standardisation is also being put in place, to help the consortium members achieve economies of scale, as well as optimising good design and place-making principles.

OSM market leaders Stewart Milne Timber Systems and Elements Europe are working in partnership with the programme, to help embed the foundations for accelerated delivery, building expertise and capacity within local delivery teams.

Hertfordshire is also encouraging the use of MMC and OSM through Herts IQ, the county’s Enterprise Zone with its innovation partner BRE, a global leader in the built environment and founding partner of the UK’s Construction Innovation Hub. Herts IQ is attracting a cluster of smart construction and clean tech companies on prime commercial sites near Junction 8 of the M1.

The Hertfordshire OSM programme is expected to deliver a raft of benefits for both housing providers, home owners and tenants, including reduced carbon, higher levels of sustainability, less construction waste and lower total development cost, due to lower whole life costs and lower costs in use.

MMC and OSM can achieve around 37% better thermal performance than Building Regulations, meaning lower energy consumption and energy bills. It also offers higher standards of fit and finish at handover without time consuming snagging, helping housing providers secure earlier rental income and less neighbourhood disruption.

Richard Whitehead, Hertfordshire LEP Board Member and Chair of Herts IQ said: “We’re committed to supporting the use of offsite methods of construction in Hertfordshire because it delivers many benefits to both housing providers and residents.

“With Herts IQ, we’re creating the right conditions for offsite manufacturers and supply chains to innovate, collaborate and thrive in Hertfordshire and we look forward to welcoming more forward thinking, sustainable companies to join our growing business community.”

Tina Barnard, Chief Executive of Watford Community Housing said: “We’re proud to be leading this consortium to help drive the supply of sustainable homes for Hertfordshire.

“We plan to utilise offsite construction methods for at least 50% of the homes built by Watford Community Housing and our J-V partners over the next four years, to deliver environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and energy-efficient homes for our customers.

“In doing so, we’ll also support Homes England in its goal to ensure that at least a quarter of the homes delivered through its funding programmes make use of offsite construction.

“We are already well underway with our Northcotts development in Watford, which is due for completion in summer 2022 and will deliver 18 new homes built using modular construction methods.”

Patsy Dell, Director of Growth, Hertfordshire Growth Board said: “Hertfordshire is heralding a new era of housebuilding by embracing offsite to deliver homes at scale to meet our future needs.

“Thanks to the OSM programme, we can not only accelerate housing delivery but ensure that it is underpinned by best practice in design and sustainability, creating homes fit for the future that will support generations to come.”