Our Levelling up the North Discussion

February 10, 2022

On the 27th of January we launched our “Levelling up the North with Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)” campaign.

By launching this campaign and highlighting the projects we have delivered in the North, we have set out to expand on our existing partnerships with Northern affordable housing providers to fire up the economy in this area and partner with additional companies who are striving to ensure that opportunities are afforded more equally in the North.

Kicking off with a webinar, we were joined by guest speakers Stephen Wightman, MMC Lead from Faithful + Gould and Darren Jones, Associate Director from shedkm Architects who discussed the positive implications of levelling up together with Simon Horn, our Technical Manager and Simon Haddy, our Head of Business Development.

We were joined by over 130 attendees from across the Northern affordable housing sector.  As way of introduction, we began the session with an overview of the levelling up agenda, brought sharply into focus as the country now reads the white paper issued by Michael Gove and the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities and learns more around what this might mean for new build affordable homes in the North – with a focus on MMC.

Stephen Wightman then took up the reins and looked at what impact MMC and levelling up has on equality, diversity and inclusion, along with how social value could be implemented across all regions, giving greater benefits to local communities. Next Darren Jones discussed the impact of design, people and place and how modern methods of construction enhance the lives of those that occupy homes built in this way.  He spoke of the fact that greater control of the build in a factory-controlled environment produces far greater quality of product, with quicker build times due to a reduction in the build programme – with place-making at the heart of the design affecting both the properties and the surrounding environment.

We showcased our MMC timber frame benefits and solutions with an overview of our products with Simon Horn drawing specific focus to the sustainable future offered at the forefront of the business, pointing out the environmental benefits of using timber versus concrete, stating “each 1m3 of wood grown by a tree holds 0.9 tonnes of CO₂ ‘sequestered’ from the atmosphere.  Using timber instead of concrete provides an average reduction of 2.1 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per 1 ton of timber product”.   Sustainability is one of our core values, driven by our people, our planet, our product.

Finally, Simon Haddy revealed how we plan to launch a hub and spoke business model across the North of England and called for affordable housing providers in the region to work together using a collaborative approach, moving forward by sharing knowledge within the sector and pushing the levelling up agenda to help ease the housing crisis we face.

As Darren from shedkm commented: “At shedkm we believe that good design has a fundamental role to play in delivering the ambitions of the Levelling Up agenda.  The importance of careful placemaking should not be underestimated in creating desirable and vibrant places to live.  New homes should be high quality, appealing and suitable for modern lifestyles, whilst being resilient to the climate emergency we are facing.  MMC and timber construction can help with all of these requirements.  As many of our projects demonstrate, modern MMC-built homes can reduce embodied and in-use carbon, and it is entirely possible to achieve variety within the standardisation necessary for MMC.

“In our experience MMC has a much to offer in terms of quality, sustainability and speed of construction, but to deliver maximum benefits it needs to be considered at an early stage of a project and early engagement with manufacturers can be hugely beneficial.”

We were delighted to receive some positive feedback from registrants:

“Great to see the North being proactively addressed in this webinar promoting MMC and to see the insightfulness of Donaldson Timber Systems in addressing the full breadth of delivery with the panel they pulled together.  MMC is crucial to the future delivery of homes North and South and the more joined up thinking that is promoted – cradle to grave – the greater the understanding and ultimately the take-up”

Amber Beare, Delivery Manager, Design, Sheffield Council

“As someone relatively new to the world of construction and MMC I found the session really beneficial. It was really insightful to hear about the manufacturing process and DTS’s plans within the North West. I also really benefitted from hearing about how shedkm and Faithful + Gould have successfully implemented different forms of MMC in recent projects”

Patrick Beesley, Assistant Project Officer, One Manchester