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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

Ahead of the Government’s response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report titled 'Off-site Manufacture for construction: building for change', Professor Lord Robert Mair, Head of CSIC, and a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, is featured in the industry publication Infrastructure Intelligence.

InfInt.jpg The report, published in July this year, warns that the construction sector as it currently operates cannot meet the UK’s need for housing and may struggle to address the need for infrastructure. Highlighting the current lag in productivity and labour shortage, the report urges the Government and the construction sector to urgently find solutions.

In the interview Lord Mair, the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said the call for evidence attracted a strong response, with about 80 different written submissions from a very wide field including clients, consultants, contractors, the insurance industry and the supply chain.

“None of the evidence surprised us but there was a definite consistency in what we were hearing, in that there was quite a lot that was not satisfactory about the construction industry. We were painted a picture of a very fragmented construction industry with conventional business models of delivering infrastructure not all that satisfactorily. This was a consistent element across all the submissions we received.” 

Acknowledging the government’s recognition of the importance of the construction sector, Lord Mair highlighted the committee’s support for the Construction Sector Deal, published in November 2017 as part of the Industrial Strategy, which stated a presumption in favour of using OSM from 2019 across the five governmental departments of health, justice, transport, education and defence.  

In the interview Lord Mair said: “Ministers clearly recognise the value of OSM so we were keen in our enquiry to find what the government meant by that and we very much welcomed its stance to positively encourage OSM and changing the way procurement is done. This is along with the government’s “presumption in favour” of off-site manufacture across five departments, this will provide an important signal to the construction sector that there importantly will be a tight line of projects and provide confidence for companies to invest in OSM facilities. 

“We believe our report makes sure improvements happen sooner rather than later.”

The 'Off-site Manufacture for construction: building for change' report is awaiting Government response and debate.

Read the full interview in Infrastructure Intelligence here.

Read the House of Lords’ report here.