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Bloxham: ‘Problems at Oxley Woods must not stop innovation’

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Urban Splash director Tom Bloxham has said that problems with the Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners-designed Oxley Woods kit-of-part homes  ‘must not stop innovation’ in the housing industry

Speaking at an Archiboo talk entitled ‘Housebuilding is ripe for disruption’, the developer said issues with the pre-fabricated timber-framed scheme should not stop the industry adopting new methods of construction.

‘Whenever we innovate something inevitably goes wrong. There are risks and it is difficult. But somebody has to take these risks for the industry to move forward’, said Bloxham.

He added: ‘Construction hasn’t really changed in the last 100 years. The lead time on bricks is 40 weeks but housebuilders traditionally take 26 weeks to build a house. So we need to look at other methods of building’.

The Manser Medal-winning Oxley Woods housing project designed by RSHP was built using modern methods of construction but water leakage problems were found at the scheme just seven years after it was completed, sparking fears that the issues would prevent the industry from moving forward with new modular housing methods (AJ 15.05.14).

Bloxham added: ‘We have been very conscious of the issues raised at Oxley Woods and are doing everything we can to ensure it is not repeated.’

Urban Splash is set to start on site with a new scheme of 44 factory-built homes at its New Islington development in Manchester in November.

The ShedKM-designed pre-fab homes, which will be built from timber cassettes, are the developer’s first foray into mass housing.

The customisable two to three-storey homes will be built on the site of Urban Splash’s abandoned Tutti Frutti scheme and is the first of the developer’s plans for ‘lots of designs by lots of different architects’.

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