New research identifies high-rise as answer to social housing crisis

New research identifies high-rise as answer to social housing crisis

The answer to the UK wide social housing crisis could be solved by the intelligent design and build of high-rise buildings, according to a report from water solutions provider, Uponor. 

It is predicted that the UK population will reach 67 million by 2020 and 77 million by 2050, with 68% of these living in urban areas. A lack of available social housing has led to an increased number of people, including pensioners, falling into volatile and unaffordable private rental, and with land footprint limited in the UK’s already crowded cities, the report identifies that the best way to resolve the issue is to build up [1].

Uponor’s report draws on the findings of a survey of over 250 construction professionals, including architects, specifiers and M&E engineers, on the challenges the sector faces amidst a major housing crisis, which 85% of those surveyed believe can only be solved by an upsurge in the delivery of tall residential buildings.

The report also identifies that for high-rise to be seen as a viable social housing option for the future, architects and contractors must cater for community facilities and be compatible with wider surroundings as to manage traffic, congestion and city infrastructure. The report highlights that, to achieve this, there is a need for change at the initial design stage of buildings to ensure M&E expertise is considered and implemented to futureproof the life cycle of these tall buildings, for generations of families to come.

The report, produced by Uponor in conjunction with M&E consultants LJJ and SES Engineering Services, also reveals that 75% of those working within the industry believe that in order to deliver sufficient numbers of high rise buildings to meet current demand for social housing, those designing and building high rises will come under severe pressure to deliver. Cost constraints, demand on available resources and heightened regulations were listed as major challenges, all of which become more heightened when looking specifically at the build of both private and public social housing developments.

James Griffiths, Project Development Directorat Uponor, said: “The housing crisis and lack of readily available social housing has been dominating headlines for years. London alone requires 110,000 additional homes by 2050 and current plans are simply not adequate to meet this demand.

“Delivering social housing developments isn’t about constructing showstopping buildings, it’s about housing people in need. There are currently 1.15 million families on social housing waiting lists, and that is growing on a daily basis [2]. Only 290,000 social housing properties were made available in 2018 which leaves a clear deficit, something the considered build of high-rise buildings could help remedy.

“In order for high-rise buildings to resolve the housing crisis, the entire supply chain within the construction industry needs to take steps to change not only its practices, but its way of thinking and learn to adapt to the changing social landscape. Whether it’s modular building or a more intelligent way of working surrounding the design and build of high-rise buildings, something needs to change if we want to realistically resolve the housing crisis and provide homes for those already experiencing challenging lifestyles and who might find themselves on waiting lists for months, if not years.

“By social housing providers and local authorities working in collaboration with architects and contractors, we can reduce the amount of families on social housing waiting lists and make massive steps to help remedy the housing crisis.”

The M&E Role in the Future of High Rise Buildings’ Report can be downloaded in full here.

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