Putting the LOCAL back into house building

The UK’s first ever “Local House Building Club” has launched in Birmingham uniting the City Council, Architects, Academics, Bankers, Builders Merchants and Builders in the common desire to increase the number of homes of all tenures being built across the City by local builders.

The current recovery in the housing market is focused on the South East with the West Midlands lagging behind. Across the UK the lack of local builder participation is a real concern as the number of new homes the country needs to meet the growing housing crisis cannot be met by the national builders alone.

Speaking at the launch held at leading architects’ practice Aedas, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Housing Councillor Ali said:

“We are now at a point where our house building programme will be more diverse than previously. Yes there will be some big sites where the usual house builders will offer us up the best economies of scale and it’s right that development opportunities at that level sit with those companies who are best placed to take the risk and reward associated with the scale of those opportunities.

But in contrast to those, we also have an emerging portfolio of much smaller sites, some being as small as building 1 or 2 houses. We already know that the big players in house building aren’t interested in this small scale of development and that’s where you come in. We want to make it possible for SME’s to be able to secure this type of work in the future.

We also want to de-mystify a lot of the bureaucracy that tends to surround the Council. Yes, we know we are a big organisation, but today is the start of having a continuing dialogue with you about how we work, and how we can work better with you.”

The reluctance of the big five banks to lend to Local Builders continues to prevent many developments so the support of the fastest growing bank Aldermore is vital to the ultimate success of this initiative. Help and advice is also being provided free of charge by Coventry University through a joint program with the European Union and Acivico are offering local builders advice on complying with the latest standards and regulations. Local merchant EH Smith and the Federation of Master Builders played a key role in ensuring a “full house” at the launch of a Club that will meet four times a year to share opportunities and get greater Birmingham building.

Club organiser Mike Leonard, CEO of the Modern Masonry Alliance said:

“This is beginning of something big. Local Builders use local materials, create local jobs and the homes people need within local communities.

The aim is to set up a network of Local House Building Clubs across the West Midlands region with a Local Builder Summit being planned at Coventry University in November 2014”.