A partnership of seven authorities came together for a solutions focused study and accompanying action plan, defining the issues, challenges and opportunities to increase delivery of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in Greater Lincolnshire.
At a glance
Housing Advisers Programme case study
Greater Lincolnshire authorities (North Kesteven District Council, City of Lincoln Council, South Holland District Council, Boston Borough Council, East Lindsey District Council, North-East Lincolnshire Council and Lincolnshire County Council) work collaboratively to deliver sustainable housing, infrastructure and economic growth. A key element of sustainable housing growth, alongside accelerating delivery and meeting the full range of housing needs, is the requirement to address climate change, deliver resource and energy efficiency and ultimately achieve net zero carbon development.
Modern Methods of Construction is understood to not only have the potential to accelerate and increase overall housing delivery but has excellent climate change/net zero carbon contribution credentials.
Local authorities in Greater Lincolnshire were keen not only to understand the issues and challenges of delivering MMC in the Greater Lincolnshire but also wanted a solutions focus study which provided an action plan which would act as the framework for MMC delivery going forward.
Housing Advisor Programme funding enabled the partner authorities to procure specialist consultancy from SQW Ltd. Through a process of research, investigation and stakeholder consultation, SQW produced a detailed study and action plan.
This study and action plan is now being analysed by the partner authorities and is being shared more widely with partners. This will provide the framework for collaborative and coordinated activities to increase MMC delivery.
Challenge and context
Greater Lincolnshire authorities were keen to explore the potential to increase MMC delivery, as it is understood as a means to address challenges in the construction sector around materials, capacity and skills as well as being a means to support ‘clean growth’ and sustainable delivery methodologies.
Alongside the numerous challenges to delivering MMC, there are certain challenges that are specific to or more significant in Greater Lincolnshire. These include:
- challenging development viability
- large areas of rurality/limited urbanisation
- limited transport infrastructure ,
- a strong reliance on sub regional and smaller SME developers in the area
- an ageing workforce and traditional constructions skills base.
What we did
With the support of HAP funding the partnership was able to procure a detailed study and action plan that:
- Significantly increased the collective understanding of the challenges of delivering MMC for all partners involved within the Greater Lincolnshire context.
- Provided a SMART solutions focused action plan for all partners to utilise in an attempt to increase MMC capacity and delivery across the area.
- Delivered a robust study with real insight and evidence from stakeholders that will provide a road map of how to move forward with MMC delivery.
- Supplemented the existing limited capacity and funding to undertake the research.
The difference we made
The action plan poses a number of activities around 5 key priority themes for a wide range of stakeholders not just the partner authorities. As such it is too early to identify tangible differences from the study. However the study has provided us with a clear plan of action necessary to increase delivery of MMC. These actions include:
- Working to elevate the construction sector and MMC from a position of support to a key priority with the Local Enterprise Partnership.
- Ensuring Local Plan policies support MMC.
- Developing a Greater Lincolnshire body with oversight of MMC delivery.
- Working with the Education and Skills sector organisations to increase Further Education and Higher Education courses on sustainable construction and MMC.
- Revising procurement frameworks to prioritise MMC where appropriate.
- Supporting delivery through land asset opportunities (both requiring MMC and subdividing larger sites to support SME builders), aggregating development pipeline opportunities.
The study and action plan provide a framework to inform our actions going forward:
- The first phase of this work is fully publicising and analysing the findings of the study, initially with Greater Lincolnshire local authorities to scope the level and capacity of each organisation to support the actions.
- An MMC forum is then to be held with wider stakeholders with an initial presentation from SQW Ltd on the study, to begin the process of delivering the action plan activities.
- Delivery of a programme of activities with allotted leads, in line with the action plan.
Upscaling the delivery of MMC is not straightforward!
All partners recognised that delivering MMC is complex and that the study was the first step in scoping how to move forward. However, all parties were realistic and understood that a single study on its own could not provide ‘the answer’ and that continued commitment to engagement and action after the completion of the study would be necessary.
The study has achieved what was intended by providing a single piece of evidence and information about the issues, challenges and most importantly to provide an action plan.
Utilising external specialist organisation with the appropriate expertise and breadth of understanding meant that both the study and action plan was robust and challenging but gives us a framework we have confidence in to move forward.