Gareth Bradford introduced the report by explaining the proposals to investigate and adopt advanced manufacturing in construction, for the region to become the market leader in Advanced Methods in Construction (AMC) and again linked back to its role as part of the economic recovery in the post Covid-19 pandemic period and a key element of the Housing and Land economic recovery work.
Rachel-Ann Atterbury presented a report which updated the Board on the progress in implementing its earlier decisions regarding the Advanced Methods in Construction (AMC) programme, specifically the decision to move towards mainstreaming AMC on sites coming through the Single Commissioning Framework for WMCA investment and the decision to produce a new regional AMC strategy and routemap.
Councillor Jacqueline Sweetman commended the work on AMC as a good example of cross-region working. She queried whether the Market Intelligence Model included competitor research analysis in order to better understand what was being done elsewhere on this issue. Gareth Bradford assured the Board that such analysis and intelligence gathering was being carried out and would sit at the heart of the evidence-based AMC Strategy and routemap. Rachel-Ann Atterbury reported on approaches which had been received to date from companies operating in Lithuania and Ireland. She advised that a number of companies already existed in the United Kingdom but that with the commissioning of Cast Consultants, the market leaders, the WMCA was well placed to understand the position in the industry.
The Chair reported that some time ago Walsall MBC had invested in Accord Housing and its timber framed construction methods but that there were now other options apart from timber framed buildings for AMC. He commented that there were several brownfield sites in the area which could accommodate an AMC factory without the level of remediation required for the site to be used for residential purposes. He reminded the Board of its aspiration to be a major player in the United Kingdom in this industry, that it could be a real game changer for the region and on the opportunities to encourage manufacturers to base their operations in the region. Again the Chair noted how crucial this would be for post-Covid-19 recovery.
Gareth Bradford reported that many of the schemes being considered for funding support through the WMCA investment Board now included elements of AMC in line with previous agreements of the Board to embed AMC requirements into the SCF. He drew to the attention of the Board the development at Icknield Port Loop in particular. The Chair remarked on the quality of build and speed of erection at this development and encouraged Members to visit the site following the cessation of the Covid-19 limitations on travel.
Councillor Ian Courts stressed the importance of delivery at scale and reminded the Board that AMC was not solely related to timber framed buildings. He referred to the use of, for example, bathroom pods. He also commented on the opportunities which existed for boosting the skills agenda. On the downside, he reminded the Board that whilst the superstructures could be constructed completion of dwellings were dependent upon the completion of infrastructure works. He also commented on the opportunities for solar panels and PV tiles to be incorporated into AMC. Cllr Courts also referred to the importance of the work Gareth Bradford and his team were doing with Councils and other partners on using Housing and Land to support economic recovery.
1. That the AMC pre-qualification requirement within the Single Commissioning Framework, as amended, be noted;
2. That the future programme of work on AMC and specific deliverables including the proposal to bring an AMC Charter to the Board in summer 2020, followed by a full AMC strategy by the end of the year be approved;
3. That further market intelligence analysis, including competitor research, be undertaken.
4. That AMC forms a key element of the Housing and Land Portfolio Business Plan and its post-Covid 19 economic recovery planning work