Quintain boss says offsite could prompt Wembley shake-up

29th November, 2018

Quintain would consider changing the "dynamic" of its contractors on the £5bn Wembley framework if there was a "big breakthrough" in offsite.

Speaking exclusively to Construction News, construction director Matt Voyce and chief executive Angus Dodd also revealed Quintain had shortlisted McLaren and Sisk for the two next buildings in its masterplan.

This will include two sites with a combined 279 build-to-rent homes, along with retail units and a GP surgery.

Mr Voyce said he was reluctant to work with offsite contractors at present due to their size and the scale of the Wembley project.

"We never say never with new contractors but we're very happy with the four we're working with.

"If there was a big breakthrough with offsite then it's something we may look at."

The Quintain construction chief said a lack of investment was currently holding offsite back.

He told the Construction News Summit last week that Quintain hadn't switched to a "full offsite model" for three reasons: that there was no clear cost advantage; that Quintain wanted to be able to "change our minds" on specification in the build-to-rent market; and that there was insufficient supply scale in the market.

He told CN: "There's definitely a capacity issue in the offsite manufacturing world.

"There's not been enough investment, there's not enough scale. But quite frankly there hasn't needed to be, there's been enough market share for them.

"Were that to change - because it does come at a cost premium at the moment - we would be foolish not to look at that and then that may change the dynamic of the contractors we work with."

Mr Dodd added that if the skills shortage was worsened by Brexit, the developer would consider the solution more closely.

"The whole industry is moving in that direction [offsite] anyway," he said. "But if we're suddenly faced with a shortage of skilled labour, that will push us to look at it that bit more quickly and more intently."

The Quintain boss did not, however, believe the onus should be on developers to invest in the technology.

"Someone should be taking that risk and I don't think it should be the developers; it should be contractors or the government or private equity," he told CN.

"I don't see it as a developer's job."

When asked by CN whether contractors' margins were a barrier to such investment, Mr Dodd said: "That's their business - why would we invest in their business? We're the buyer here, the industry needs to deliver it.

"Biscuit manufacturers don't get told to invest in flour mills do they?"

The developer's executives told CN that it was also beginning to look at the next stage of development at its Wembley site known as the North East Lands.

A draft local plan has recently been submitted with an additional 1,000 units on top of what has already been masterplanned on the site, which could grow further if approved.

Original link - Construction News

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