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Seddon reveals aborted offsite tie-up with L&G

Seddon has revealed it abandoned a potential off-site housing tie-up with investor Legal & General after changing tack on the activity.

In a wide-ranging interview with Construction News, chief executive Jonathan Seddon said the firm had spent “a lot of time” looking at off-site manufactured homes with Legal & General, but eventually stepped away from the project.

Legal & General has invested £55m in an off-site factory in Yorkshire, having signed a long-term lease last February with local company Logicor on the 550,000 sq ft warehouse, based in Sherburn-in-Elmet near Leeds.

The factory aimed to supply two initial pilot schemes: one for a third-party developer and one internal L&G scheme.

The two projects were understood to each be 20-50 units in size.

The investor wants the factory to be in full production during 2017 and has set a target of building 3,000 homes a year. These will be a mixture of third-party and internal L&G projects.

Mr Seddon said his firm was ”close to getting 40 houses away with [L&G] in Cheshire” before it stepped away.

Read the full interview

Jonathan Seddon on how to keep a family business profitable in a cutthroat industry – and why he doesn’t like frogs

He added that his firm had changed its approach to off-site manufacturing significantly, with the company now focusing on modularisation of certain components rather than a large-scale investment in its own technology.

“I’ve gone from thinking we need to be involved and owning and operating some sort of off-site Laing O’Rourke-style facility, to actually thinking we need to have full knowledge of all the systems out there,” he said.

Despite describing the L&G model as “fantastic”, Mr Seddon added that off-site housing “doesn’t stack up in terms of cost”.

“In lower prices, the critical path for a traditional housing estate isn’t getting the houses built. It starts with the place-making skills and planning permission.”

L&G has been contacted for comment.

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