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Wates slams Govt building programme plans

Most of the Government's building programmes - designed to deal with the UK's housing shortage - are pre-programmed to fail, a report produced by Wates said.
Poor sound insulation in flats and houses will be a turn-off for the public, despite Government plans for sustainable high-density Estates.

Wates chief executive officer Paul Drechsler said: 'Builders do not want their work to degenerate into a fortress or slum.'

And the study said there was a risk that the Government's £38 billion investment in sustainable communities would provide benefits as short lived as some 20 thCentury regeneration programmes.

Instead the emphasis should be on creating long-term communities, rather than short term housing, to turn around poor public perceptions and to make these developments sustainable.

The report adds that construction industry practices are not matching the rhetoric, and this problem will continue until policy makers translate theories into practice, and measure and reward success.

The study's findings and related recommendations will be published on Wednesday in The Wates Report: Failing Communities - Breaking the Cycle.

One problem it identifies is that procurement authorities and the construction industry have no commonly-understood, easy-to-follow performance. Failure to establish and police such measures will mean that most non-PFI public sector construction programmes will continue to be driven by the need to keep short-term costs low.

Mr Drechsler added: 'You won' t achieve high-density housing that is acceptable to the public until the construction industry actions things like better soundproofing and easy-to-maintain materials.'

'And you won' t get flexible buildings until the construction industry routinely locates stairwells and plumbing in places which allow future generations to change internal layouts to accommodate more or fewer households, or different uses.'

The Wates Report argues that the UK will remain trapped in a 30-year cycle of regeneration and decay until all parties in the process are rewarded on the basis of a development's whole-life financial and environmental costs.

It also calls for immediate changes in the way that building companies and the supply chain identify and communicate environmental information, cost projects, consult local communities, and work together.

The report's authors argue that Government intervention is required in the form of tax incentives, to drive improvements in waste management, water harvesting and carbon dioxide emissions.

They call for amendments to EU legislation to recognise the social benefits of using local suppliers on long-term development programmes.

Mr Drechsler said: 'There is a high risk that large amounts of the public and private sector's £100 billion annual spend on build, refurbishment and regeneration projects will become part of the same cycle of decay, demolition and redevelopment that has characterised the major regeneration building programmes of the last century.'

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