Use more Welsh timber in homes, architect urges

More work needs to be done to encourage use of Welsh timber in the construction industry according to a Mid Wales architect.

The new homes at Sarn
The new homes at Sarn

Despite the success of the first phase of the Home-Grown Wales Welsh timber project, it has emerged that just four per cent of Welsh-grown timber is used in the construction industry. This is despite 95 per cent of the harvested Welsh timber meeting the requirements for use in construction.

The facts were released at a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet when it was discussing the Home-Grown Wales project which has been successfully identifying and testing interventions that would positively impact on the Welsh timber construction supply chain as well as delivering low carbon social housing.

“It’s disappointing to see the construction industry failing to grasp the benefits of Welsh timber and particularly the positive work of Home-Grown Wales. We have a rich resource of high-quality timber in rural Wales and a supply-chain more than capable of delivering the product,” said Doug Hughes, Principal Architect and Managing Director of Hughes Architects.

“Organisations such as Wood Knowledge Wales have demonstrated how Welsh timber can make a positive impact not only in the construction supply chain, but in the development or more low carbon homes in Wales and, specifically, in social housing.

“Powys County Council has led the way through its Wood Encouragement Policy. This specifies the use of Welsh timber in its social housing schemes. Other public and private sector organisations involved in housing should consider adopting such policies. It’s pleasing to see Wales and West Housing doing just that. But more needs to be done.”

Mr Hughes said the timber industry was played a significant role in the economy of rural Wales.

“We’re not only talking about the timber industry, such as growers and producers. The industry supports a much wider community, including contractors and suppliers.

“By increasing the use of Welsh timber we’d be creating more opportunities for enterprise in rural communities. In addition, we would be supporting the growth of more low carbon homes in rural areas through social and private housing developments.”

Hughes Architects designed a Passivhaus development of social housing in Sarn, near Newtown, on behalf of Powys County Council. The project to build the super, energy efficient homes, was developed and completed by contractors Pave Aways in May.

Mr Hughes has already urged the Welsh Government to confirm a second phase of Home-Grown Wales. If funding is approved, it would help develop Welsh timber products for use in the construction of windows and wood fibre insulation.

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