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New UK Government procurement guidelines encourages adoption of offsite construction for public works projects

In what may be a harbinger of things to come for Australian Government procurement policies, the UK Governments’ Cabinet Office has published their Construction Playbook for offsite construction.

The UK Governments’ Cabinet Office last week published their Construction Playbook (procurement guidelines), and in broad terms outlines how it wants government and industry to work together on public projects in future utilising MMC (modern methods of construction) and offsite construction.

Public projects should be built using standardised components and assemblies, new procurement guidance says.

One of the key measures outlined is the encouragement of standardised design to “harmonise and rationalise” builds. The document states: “We will look to procure construction projects based on product platforms comprising of standardised and interoperable components and assemblies, the requirements for which will be part of a digital component catalogue.”

Different governmental departments have been told to collaborate to see what platform solutions can be used across different bodies in order to increase the use of such design in building projects.

It adds: “Future procurements and frameworks should support this with the development of a market and supply chain that can develop and deliver designs based on these platform approaches, manufacture and supply components.”

Elsewhere the benefits of the use of offsite construction and other modern methods of construction (MMC) are outlined, with public procurement bodies expected to “develop a comprehensive strategy at an organisational level” in order to enable its use and help industry to invest in offsite construction facilities.

It says: “Adopting a more manufacturing-led approach to public works projects and programmes will improve productivity and deliver better value for money. We will standardise elements of design and, where appropriate, use longer-term contracts across portfolios. This will give industry the certainty required and make it commercially viable for suppliers to invest in innovative new technologies and MMC – increasing the speed of delivery.”

Other measures in the playbook include the promise of visible procurement pipelines from government.

Keith Waller, programme director of the Construction Innovation Hub, said the procurement guidelines document is “a critical game-changer in our transformative journey as a sector”.

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