Farmer becomes MMC Champion

Author: Ross Sturley, CIMCIG

The Government has announced a new Champion for Modern Methods of Construction as part of a drive to make the UK the global leader in housing standards.

Mark Farmer brings 30 years’ experience in construction to the role and will provide independent scrutiny and advice to the Government on how to increase the use of MMC in homebuilding. He will also be charged with developing the ‘Construction Corridor’ in the North and promoting wider innovation in the sector.

Farmer will also act as an ambassador overseas for the UK’s MMC activities in homebuilding, using international networks and trade opportunities to attract investment into an industry that could be worth an estimated £40 billion once mature.

It follows a major funding deal, as the Housing Minister announced the government was injecting £30 million into ilke Homes, the biggest ever government investment in an MMC factory, as we develop a Construction Corridor in the North. This new, transformational funding will play a crucial role in the scaling up of production, bringing down production costs and allowing up to 8 homes, which will create less waste and be more energy efficient, to be built a day.

Housing Minister Esther McVey MP said: "I want to see modern methods of construction – the new gold standard of building - being used up and down the country to usher in a green housing revolution. That’s why it is such fantastic news that Mark Farmer has agreed to be our new MMC Champion – to really drive forward innovation, and to help the government deliver a new generation of green homes."

MMC Champion Mark Farmer said: "I am delighted to have been asked to carry out this new role. This is a really important time for the construction industry and there is an urgent need to rethink how we build homes, delivering better quality, improved safety, carbon reduction and an array of exciting new career opportunities."

I look forward to working with both industry and Government to make sure we now accelerate the uptake of modern methods of construction.

Russell Pedley, co-founder at Assael Architecture who co-chairs the Urban Land Institute UK Residential Council with Mark Farmer, said: "Mark is the perfect ambassador for the sector and this welcome appointment shows ministers are really prioritising ways to build cleaner, better quality homes more quickly in factories"

Modern Methods of Construction are a combination of offsite manufacturing and onsite techniques that provide alternatives to traditional house building, allowing homes to be built quickly, be more energy efficient and better designed. It can deliver high-quality housing at pace and it has been shown that some homes built using modern methods have 80% fewer defects and can reduce heating bills by to 70%.

Some of the main benefits of MMC housing include:

  • Speed – homes delivered using MMC are manufactured offsite with less disruption than onsite construction. 
    Reduced carbon footprint – homes built using MMC have the potential to contribute significantly to the reduction of carbon emissions, through greater precision in the manufacturing process leading to more energy-efficient homes and reduced construction waste.
  • Skills – production lines enable companies to take apprentices and train them on specific tasks irrespective of their backgrounds.
  • Safety – As Dame Judith Hackitt points out ‘Over the longer term, it is expected that the changes set out in the report will lead to the greater use of more standard and better quality assured systems being constructed offsite and less elemental construction onsite.

This news also comes days after the final piece of the world’s tallest modular building was installed in Croydon, just 35 weeks after construction started. The two towers of 101 George Street, developed by Tide and its sister company Vision Modular Systems in its Bedford factory, stand at 44-storeys and 135.6m it is the tallest modular apartment tower in the world - the same height as the London Eye.