Vistry says giant modular plant will be retained to supply HA build pipelines
Proving that experience trumps ambition, the acquisition of Countryside Properties by Vistry has increased the value of its forward order book to a staggering £4.6Bn. This 70% increase in value is particularly impressive given the current economic climate, which can, at best, be described as fragile and the perceived slowdown in the construction market.
Prior to the acquisition, Countryside Properties was reporting a loss of £6.5M from its property manufacturing business. Almost half of this loss was directly attributed to its £20M factory at Bardon. This purpose-built facility was specifically commissioned by Countryside Properties to build and supply modular housing, but it failed to realise its potential and, instead, created an economic burden for its owners and investors. The decision was made by Countryside Properties to sell the facility in order to balance the books and reassure investors and customers alike of its ongoing viability.
Vistry investment creates a confidence boost for the industry
Vistry have ambitious plans for the mothballed Bardon factory. They intend to maximise its output, using it not only to supply their own expansive build programme but also to build modular properties for onward sale to housing associations and other SME developers.
The level of investment to which Vistry have committed and the positive attitude with which they are approaching this previously failing part of the Countryside business represents a solid confidence boost for the offsite construction industry.
Following quickly on the back of Weston's £40M investment in an MMC factory, specifically purchased for the purpose of building modular homes, it is likely that offsite builds will become a prevalent feature on our landscape this year and into the future, which is great news for the industry.
Plans for factory utilisation
The Bardon factory has the capacity to produce up to 3,500 homes every year and Vistry are still working on plans to determine the most effective utilisation of the site. Measuring 380,000 square feet, the enormous factory offers untapped potential for creating modern and desirable properties which will satisfy the needs of housing associations as well as the demanding aspirations of private clients.
As a modern and efficient manufacturing plant, it offers a range of benefits to Vistry who have ambitious plans for ongoing expansion. This investment will encourage the MMC housing market to rally, following a difficult year in 2022 which saw high-profile ventures by Urban Splash and Caledonian Modular failing due to lengthy underperformance issues. These dampened customer confidence resulting in an inability to secure sufficient throughput to remain viable.
Supporting Housing Associations' need for homes
With Government targets for UK home-building continuing to fall short of the required levels, it is anticipated that modular homes, which offer faster build timescales, excellent quality standards and impressive levels of energy efficiency and occupier comfort, will gather momentum this year. Trade association, Make UK Modular believes that modular builds represent a more attractive proposition than traditional brick and mortar builds. They are proposing that the Government allocates 20% of its affordable housing funds to modular housing in order to increase production and achieve the challenging targets that have been set for the UK's housing industry.
By embracing modern methods of offsite construction, it will be possible to increase the supply of affordable homes, achieve Government targets and provide safe, sustainable housing for those in need. By working in conjunction with Local Authorities, it is widely believed that the modular construction industry can support the UK in creating vibrant communities across the country where owners and tenants alike can live in comfort in modern and cost-effective homes.
Build Space support for businesses
At Build Space, we stand ready to support any emerging requirements that arise as a result of this acquisition. With our decades of industry-specific experience, we are ideally placed to supply the specialist personnel that are needed to support organisations in periods of hyper-growth, on temporary or permanent contracts, and with immediate starts often available.
We know where to find the best construction workers, project delivery specialists and IT experts and can support businesses in acquiring the talent that they need to achieve their objectives, deliver their schedule and meet all applicable quality standards. To find out how Build Space can supply talented personnel to supplement your existing team or to achieve your throughput requirements, please call us today.