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John Prescott Stresses The Importance Of MMC At OFFSITE2005

While giving the keynote address on the opening day of OFFSITE2005 at BRE, the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, highlighted the important contribution that modern methods of construction (MMC) can make to this country's housing needs.

He also announced that 33 organisations would be invited to participate in the next stage of the Design for Manufacture Competition being run by English Partnerships, the Government's regeneration agency, on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The 33 - a mixture of consortia, partnerships and individual companies from the UK and overseas - will now be invited to submit firm proposals in the second stage of the competition. Successful bidders have until July to submit their Stage Two proposals.

'I am encouraged by the response from the construction industry to step up and take on my challenge to produce the £60,000 home,' said Mr Prescott. 'The level of interest in this competition has been staggering. We received over 50 expressions of interest in the first stage, involving more than 100 companies. Originally it was predicted that between 15-25 firms would move to this next stage, but since the quality of the entries was so high that number has easily been surpassed. 'My Design for Manufacture Competition is challenging house builders to think creatively and innovatively in order to provide homes that are well designed and affordable at the same time. At a time when construction costs are rising and we need to build more for our money, I want to help more people get onto the housing ladder while still driving up standards in design, construction methods and creating truly sustainable communities.'

The Deputy Prime Minister also announced three further sites that will be used for the Competition - School Road, Hastings; Horn's Cross, Stone; and Rowan High School, Merton. In total 10 sites have now been chosen to be used by the eventual competition winners. The successful bidders will be chosen early next year and it is expected that work will begin on the first sites in Spring 2006. In addition, invitations are being sent out today to those people the Government would like to be on the Design for Manufacture judging panel. Potential panelists are from a range of backgrounds including design specialists, local authorities, housing corporations and environmental experts.

The panel will be responsible for selecting the final shortlist and making recommendations to the Deputy Prime Minister.

'Innovation and imagination is the name of the game,' said Mr Prescott. 'This is a stretching challenge but one that is necessary if we are to tackle the problems we face in terms of housing shortage and buyers being priced out of the market. Twinned with that I want to stimulate fresh thinking in the industry with the UK becoming world leaders in terms of construction methods and design excellence. 'I am looking forward to seeing the developed proposals in Stage Two - let's see what can be achieved and really make this Competition a success - I wish all 33 organisations the best of luck in this next stage.'

Following his keynote speech at OFFSITE2005, the largest exhibition of off-site and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) ever seen in the UK, the Deputy Prime Minister opened the new Innovation Park, sponsored by ODPM and the DTI, which is located at BRE. The Park, which will accommodate seven demonstration houses in total, will be used over the next two years for training purposes - educating builders, contractors and manufacturers about Modern Methods of Construction, renewable systems, innovative IT systems and brand new concepts for the construction industry.

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