Secretary of State at DLUHC (Michael Gove) describes OSHA as a “grass roots leadership organisation”

OSHA referred to as the grass roots leadership organisation supporting and assisting social housing in the MMC sector.

During the recent House of Lords inquiry into MMC delivery, the Secretary of State (SoS) was asked why the promised MMC Task Force had not been introduced, with a ring fenced budget of £10m for the sector. There was a lengthy and quite honest response from Michael Gove, and his defining comment regarding OSHA was that there was a much more focused approach to delivering MMC (specifically in the public sector), than a team from within Homes England and DLUHC could ever imagine delivering as a task force. The Secretary of State at DLUHC stated…

There are two things I would mention. Firstly, there has been a greater degree of leadership demonstrated by individual firms and others within the sector, with the establishment of the Off-site Homes Alliance (OSHA). This has been a greater level of grass-roots leadership.

Secondly, not only have we a mandate for Homes England within the affordable homes programme but we have done some things which, while I would never claim were momentous, I do believe help. . . . we also have a PAS—a publicly available standard, one of the means by which we make building standards more intelligible and easier for the industry—that has been broadly welcomed so far. But, again, the fundamental challenge here is that, while modern methods of construction can provide many advantages, for it to work we need to know that there is a pipeline of future demand for this particular style of building.

Finally, an inquiry into the housebuilding sector is currently being conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority and it may well be that that draws some conclusions that will inform this. Without criticising the main volume house builders, my observation is that they have pattern books and ways of operating with which they are comfortable and that means that

some of the innovation here, does not perhaps have the attractions for them that it might

The areas that Michael Gove refers to here are indeed the grass roots leadership off the pioneering RPs (and soon to be LAs) involved at OSHA and the immense amount of work we have put in to this programme (our platform), but also the work of the team at OSHA in assisting DLUHC with the set up of the PAS 8700 standard referred to above, where OSHA helped DLUHC put together the commission, which was then subsequently awarded to BSI. OSHA put forward the original technical author for the PAS and also the replacement technical author (due to a resignation) who were also subsequently taken on to further develop the PAS. OSHA has been active on all working groups since that commissioning position, from steering to manufacture through to installation and even compliance.

OSHA also saw the need to introduce MMC friendly pattern books right from the start, which also include options from basic building regulations to Future Homes Standard (well overdue now), to passive house and zero carbon deliverables, so there is now nothing to stop traditional house builders also working to improve their housing delivery, whilst using OSHA to help that process for more innovative and higher performing outcomes.

Mike Ormesher, Project Director at OSHA, has been in regular contract with the team at DLUHC and Homes England to enable a strong communication route whereby all clients of OSHA are informed of progress, with the new Housing Minister (Lee Rowley) now taking full responsibility to deliver a reformed MMC strategy for the sector. In a statement provided by Mike Ormesher, he commented that . . .

. . for MMC to work effectively, we need the whole team at the table. Something demonstrated very effectively in other countries and continents such as Scandinavia, where the design team and specifically the housing developer, are in the driving seat, guided and instructed by the client who demands better quality and better performance of residents’ homes. It is very hard for a manufacturer to take full responsibility and control over the housing delivery process from land management through to aftercare and warranty provision. This has been the downfall of many who are trying to innovate (at the request of the client I might add) in a very traditional and transactional sector, which is also at its lowest delivery rate since starts and completions were set up. 130,000 homes per annum is unforgivable at a time of significant need for more social housing.

Mike Ormesher goes on to say that . . . OSHA will continue its work as long as we have the support to do so, as a grass roots leadership organisation, to finish off the work of both Sir John Egan and Sir Michael Latham over 30 years ago now, to rethink construction, construct the right team, and accelerate change. We have the innovations robustly in place now, we have the desire for sure, and we have the knowledge and experience to manage the process diligently for our clients. If costs are still a concern, then OSHA has the control and national database intelligence to make that work too, as more MMC via aggregated and controlled demand, means lower costs both operationally and upfront too. Our very strong and growing aggregated demand position as a client, means we are best placed to deliver this ambition for the benefit of all stakeholders at every level and across all partners without exception.

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