Taylor Wimpey, one of the first housebuilders to stop construction activity due to Covid-19, plans to restart the majority of its operations in the coming weeks, with Vistry and Persimmon following suit.
London Stock Exchange-listed Taylor Wimpey, which submitted plans for 227 homes in Prescott last week, closed all development sites at the end of March, and enacted a 30% pay cut for the company’s directors.
Not all developers and contractors stopped work on site during lockdown, with many in the North West and beyond, such as Allied London at Manchester Goods Yard, opting to continue activity with heightened health and safety measures in place to protect workers.
The Government has left the decision as to whether or not to keep sites open in the hands of individual firms, and has itself been pressing on with the construction of the emergency Nightingale Covid-19 hospitals in London, Manchester and elsewhere.
Taylor Wimpey’s plans to reopen sites come after the housebuilder worked up strategies to keep staff safe on site, including the use of face shields that clip on to hard hats.
Meanwhile, Vistry said it would return to a “significant number” of its housing sites next Monday while Persimmon, which is bringing forward 168 homes in Darwen ,will also return to site next Monday having developed a range of new site protocols.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick welcomed the news of housebuilders returning to work and encouraged more to do the same to spur the national economy.
And also the news that Vistry will reopen their sites.
I hope to see further housebuilders choose to reopen shortly – once they’ve also worked through how to meet social distancing and protect their workforce.
— Robert Jenrick (@RobertJenrick) April 23, 2020
Contractor returning to work is positive news for planners, too, which rely on housebuilders to maintain the momentum of their operations.
Dan Mitchell, planning partner at Barton Willmore said: “Residential is 60% of the market and until housebuilders get things moving again, work will be delayed.”
Brick-makers Michelmersh and Ibstock are also close to restarting production following a break, as the construction industry looks to crank up its operations.
Construction industry sources had reported a shortage of some materials, including mortar and plasterboard, as production slowed amid the pandemic.