Several housing associations across the UK have plans to gradually bring staff back to building sites throughout May, ensuring they implement new guidance and safety measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Inside Housing, this follows announcements from the UK’s largest private housebuilders, such as Barratt, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon, that they are reopening sites within the next few weeks.
Mike May, construction director at A2Dominion, who own and manage 36,000 homes in the South of England, said that the safety of staff and contractors remains its top priority.
He said that to ensure this, the association would embark on a phased reopening of sites, as well as testing all workers who enter sites, implementing strict social distancing procedures and conducting constant reviews of its approaches.
In late April the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, argued that “construction can and should continue”, urging house builders to reopen sites. The Construction Leadership Council, the government body that represents the sector, has published guidance on how to operate sites safely.
In some situations, where associations have partnered with housebuilders, there are more sites reopening, and some have not closed at all.
Tom Titherington, executive director of development and commercial at Sovereign, said: “We have 83 sites where we have contracted to acquire or have homes built. Ten of these have remained open throughout and 24 are planning to open in some form or another after the first May bank holiday.”
While sites are expected to reopen soon, in Scotland, the government has banned all work on building sites until further notice. The Scottish housing minister, Kevin Stewart, has said that the Scottish government is unlikely to meet its target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes by 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic site shutdown.
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