The Project

A 17 storey block of apartments was to be constructed in the St Peters Square area of Manchester. The site, located close to the city centre and University area, had very limited access due to a large retail park on one side and a canal on the other. This meant that standard construction methods such as pouring a concrete frame would be impossible, so other methods needed to be looked at. A fast, reliable method of construction was required.

The Solution

The main contractor employed RLH Construction to use Architectural Precast Sandwich Panels. This method of construction involved the precast panels being cast offsite then brought to site on lorries and craned into place. The external panels were already cast architecturally to the required external design. The internal floors were then placed and grouted, and finally the internal walls were erected. Once this process had been completed, the next floor was placed following the same sequence. As each floor was constructed, pre-fitted bathroom pods were lowered into the rooms before the next floor was placed, removing the need for bathroom fit out. The floors were grouted using Fosroc Conbextra GP, and the precast external and internal walls were placed onto Fosroc Conbextra BM (Bedding Mortar). Once in place, the vertical joints in the walls were grouted using Fosroc Conbextra PM, a thixotropic grout that can be pumped directly into a vertical joint without it falling out, ready for it to be trowelled flush with the walls.


The Benefits

RLH Construction were able to achieve a rapid turnaround on each floor, progressing onto the next floor much more quickly than with conventional construction. This was due in part to RLH being highly skilled in placing Fosroc grouting products and to the fact that Conbextra grouts will achieve strengths in excess of 60N much faster than normal concrete. With the precast units arriving to site already formed, there was far less remediation to contend with and it was just a case of fixing and grouting them in place, with the Fosroc grouts providing a very strong, solid bond.

2022 will be a ‘golden year’ for off-site manufacturing as construction becomes more efficient
Written by Des Duddy, Managing Director at Protrade 

Back in 2011, a quite astonishing feat happened. 

In China, a prefabrication business, which proclaimed itself as the world’s fastest builder, erected the 30-story T30 Tower Hotel in a little over two weeks. That same company went on to build a 57-storey building in just 19 days in 2015, doing so by completing three floors of the structure every day.

Even more recently, it may be easier for you to recall the Huoshenshan hospital that was built in Wuhan in 10 days in 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All three of the above examples were extraordinary feats of construction over the last decade, with the latter drawing fascination from across the world as millions visited sites like YouTube to watch time-lapse videos of how it was achieved.

As remarkable as they were, they are the latest in a clear line of indicators of the route our industry is inevitably heading in.

MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) and off-site manufacturing are nothing new. However, its adoption as the primary method of working across the industry has been accelerated by the need for construction to be far more efficient after a rough couple of years.

Prior to 2022, the off-site construction of buildings, building elements and structures accounts for around 2% of the total construction market. Thanks to a perfect storm, though, we’re going to see MMC and off-site manufacturing boom and those examples of construction feats I alluded to will become the norm in the years to come.

In this article, we’re going to explore why MMC and off-site manufacturing will become invaluable to the construction sector as it enters a crucial point in its journey to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

The three main benefits of MMC and off-site manufacturing beyond efficiency

There are several articles out there that document the basic benefits of MMC and off-site manufacturing and so I’m not going to go over old ground.

Focusing purely on the economics, though, there is enormous investment going into it in the UK, and for good reason too.

There are three obvious benefits to the country and the economy:

  • the first is the commercial gain
  • its ability to give companies a competitive edge
  • improve the sector’s capability to meet demand after a pandemic that saw multiple projects mothballed and kicked into the long grass during 2020 and 2021.

Off-site manufacturing techniques have progressed significantly over the last few years, moving it on significantly from a time when it held a tarred reputation and was used mainly as temporary accommodation; your portacabins and the like.

Instead, what we now have are buildings and structures that are produced to incredibly high and repeatable standards, as we saw with the hospital that was built in Wuhan in just 10 days.

A word on supply shortages, raw material price inflation, and demand… it’s only going to get worse

It’s no secret that the supply shortages and lead times construction has faced over the last 18 months caused issues with projects across the country, with housing associations and local authorities grappling with limited supplies as well as soaring prices that reached a 40-year high for the industry.

For context, we received notification during October that silicone, which is contained in a lot of sealants, was due to go up 39% in price. We’d already experienced price rises of nearly 60% earlier in the year. As a business, we don’t buy steel in its raw state, but we do buy fixings manufactured from it, and they have risen by at least 25%. Channel and bracketry used in steel building systems, has gone up over 60% since January 2021. If you also look at raw materials, like polymers and monomers that go into making PVA and acrylics, they’ve shot up by more than 40%, too.

The prices we’re seeing in the market are not going to change. The shortage that is being faced isn’t going to disappear. If anything, that demand and the inflation of price is only going to increase, especially with the USA’s historic infrastructure bill, worth an eye-watering $1.2 trillion, that was passed in November by the US Senate.

This, alone, is creating a new wave of competition and demand for labour and raw materials – one that will even outweigh the problems that were faced last year.

But, the reality is Britain needs to build and construction will continue to be a vital sector for the UK economy. It’ll simply cost more. In order to combat these ongoing problems, the onus is on construction professionals to shift to a more viable option.

That obvious alternative is off-site manufacturing.

Off-site manufacturing’s influence was growing in the new build market – now it will become essential

Back in 2018, the Government laid out its plans to combat the growing housing crisis in the UK. However, since the pandemic hit, off-site manufacturing’s role has been accelerated to a point where it, in my opinion, needs to be considered essential.

A report by Savills, one of the biggest retail estate agents in the UK, showed that the proportion of new homes built using MMC was currently between 6-10%. In the new builds market, that is going to increase significantly, especially with the Homes England programme, which is aiming to make a quarter of affordable homes from MMC.

We know Lloyds Bank has the ambition to become the biggest landlord in the country and as part of their intention to buy 50,000 homes over the next decade, the likelihood is they’re going to need to build some of those properties.

As well as dealing with those ongoing supply shortages and price hikes, using traditional building methods to fulfil their needs is not commercially viable. Missing out on rental income is a huge incentive for businesses and institutions to get the homes built rapidly, and there’s no faster construction method than off-site manufacturing, which strips away the myriad of factors, like weather, site access, permissible working hours, and noise pollution, that can impact a project.

If you could purchase a plot of land and know that the house would be finished and ready to move in within four weeks, the financial savings would be significant… not to mention the huge reduction in stress levels!

Concerns over build quality are no longer relevant, with many off-site homes now offering a mortgageable 60-year warranty. Even hospitals, schools and commercial properties are looking towards modern methods of construction.

Why? Because the possibilities are endless.

A case study: How fast-food brands like McDonald’s and KFC showed the importance of MMC and off-site manufacturing

Even prior to the three examples referenced at the beginning of this article, there has been what some have called a quiet revolution taking place for some time with MMC and off-site manufacturing, one that the retail and fast food sectors have been ahead of the game on.

This approach was actually made popular by brands like McDonald’s and KFC, both of which calculated the huge sums of lost revenue caused by not having a fully finished restaurant as each day passed during the construction process.

Talking as no expert on the finances of those two businesses, let’s say, hypothetically, it’s £30,000 worth of takings per day they’re losing out on as they’re waiting for a site to be built traditionally. That equates to £210,000 per week just for one location – a huge sum to be missing out on, even for the giant brands and companies of this world.

McDonald’s, in particular, uses prefabrication technology for its units and its that method that allows that business to complete new outlets on pre-existing groundworks in just 13 hours.

Once planning permission has been granted, the time to store opening is dramatically cut, all while it is creating savings in equipment, labour, fees and other expenses associated with a large scale build. The benefits are two-fold and this rise in interest in MMC and off-site manufacturing is generating jobs and bringing new skills and diversity to the workforce.

Fast turnarounds. Quality buildings. Minimal costings and materials. Restricted loss of earnings. That keyword again: efficiency. It is to see why this method is being adopted more and more.

Where do MMC and off-site manufacturing sit in as part of your strategy?

The facts are clear.

What we know is that off-site manufacturing is much more efficient and provides more accountability and the ability to control costs. The price of raw materials is going to continue to rise and the construction industry needs to find savings in other areas.

Again, efficiency is the keyword. Using the T30 Tower hotel, the 57-storey tower, and the Huoshenshan hospital as examples, they are three projects that, ordinarily, would have taken a year or two – possibly longer – to build traditionally and would have required huge funding from the bank.

All of that has been avoided and brought huge savings.

It will be these types of savings that will help to offset rising materials and labour costs and we’re going to be seeing far more examples of projects like these in the near future as the construction sector continues to climb back to its feet.

Excel London 3-5 May 2022. The brand new Offsite Show will make its debut in London this year and will run alongside UK Construction Week (UKCW), Civils Expo, Concrete Expo (3-4 may) and Grand Designs Live, (3-5 May).

In partnership with Buildoffsite, and supported by the MPBA, the Offsite Show will be the only UK event that unites the client and supply chain for all aspects of the rapidly expanding offsite construction sector.

The Offsite Show will welcome leading content provider, Buildoffsite who will host  comprehensive free to attend seminars and workshops with support from key industry stakeholders and Government departments.

Join Buildoffsite in welcoming the industry back for the first face to face event where we will be looking at the impacts on the construction industry post pandemic. The challenges faced and how the power of Offsite will be harnessed to deliver net zero major projects faster.

There will be sessions each day covering post pandemic recovery, MMC’s contribution to decarbonisation, whole life cycle retrofit & building for resilience. We also intend to address the opportunities for MMC led innovation through financial and assurance incentives. In this session we will be looking at the challenges businesses face in funding MMC projects and how these can be addressed by recognised industry assurance schemes. Each session will cross reference government targets and how Offsite is set to deliver.

Entrance is free to attend, and you will automatically gain access to all the co-located shows across the three days.


Book your free tickets today CLICK HERE


Still time to take part – just a few remaining stands available at the UK’s largest Offsite showcase.  If you are looking for new business opportunities within the offsite construction supply chain or want to meet new buyers of offsite construction products, services and solutions, The Offsite Show is an unmissable opportunity for your business.

Across three days, the show will offer the perfect backdrop to network with the industry and invite prospects to meet you in person so that you can showcase your products and services.
The Offsite Show is run in association with Buildoffsite and is supported by the MPBA, British Adhesive & Sealants Association, Building Better, CIRIA and Building Design & Construction magazine.The Offsite Show will be co-located with UK Construction Week, Grand Designs Live and Concrete Expo and forms part of over 40,000m2 dedicated to showcasing the built environment this coming May. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet over 30,000 decision makers actively looking to source new products.

Book your stand today!

Contact us to discuss your requirements and join

Kingspan, Euroclad, Lindapter, Creagh Concrete, Howick, Stelling Properties, C-Probe, Nexus Modular and

70 other companies at The Offsite Show

For stand enquiries contact

Eddie Milton  –

Paul Shelley  –

M-AR breaks new ground with brand-new and bespoke housing for homeless charity Centrepoint


Offsite contractor, M-AR, is working in partnership with the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity, Centrepoint, to create new, bespoke single occupancy homes for young people experiencing homelessness in the London Borough of Southwark.

The project is part of the charity’s bold new Independent Living Programme to pair over 300 young people with a job and a home across London and Manchester within the next three years. This will tackle head-on the shortage of quality affordable accommodation, free up hostel beds Centrepoint currently provides for those in dire need, and give young people a real future of independence.

Centrepoint currently provides housing and support for over 14,000 homeless young people every year in London, Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East.

This Southwark development with M-AR is the beginning of a five-year build for Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme. It marks the first time the charity has built brand-new accommodation as it has previously relied on refurbished accommodation.

M-AR is currently manufacturing 33 homes in its factory for Centrepoint, with the whole turnkey delivered project due to complete on site by late April 2022. Each 21m2 home has a small yet functional kitchen, dining area and a bathroom as well as space to sleep and relax, making the units a comfortable home for young people to live independently. The homes will be delivered to site fully fitted with the kitchen and bathroom, with all electrics and plumbing installed as well as being fully decorated throughout, enabling Centrepoint to start using the homes much quicker than with a traditional build, as offsite construction offers greater programme efficiency.


Ryan Geldard, Operations Director at M-AR commented: “It’s a privilege for us to be able to do our bit to help Centrepoint in its mission to end youth homelessness by delivering these new safe and secure independent living homes. We’re working on a turnkey basis on this project so we’re taking care of every aspect of the build programme to make the whole process as smooth as possible for Centrepoint. We can’t wait to see how the units look once they’re on site and ready to become homes.”

Sally Orlopp, Director of Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme, said: “The new homes that M-AR has delivered for are everything we could have hoped for. These comfortable, stylish, efficient and cost effective homes tackle head-on the shortage of quality affordable accommodation, free up much-needed hostel beds, and offer our young people a real step towards independence. It has been a real privilege to work with such an excellent building partner.”


M-AR has also named Centrepoint its Charity of the Year for 2022, meaning that the company will be supporting the charity over the course of the next 12 months through various fundraising activities, kick-started by a donation organised by the directors. M-AR will also be raising awareness of Centrepoint’s work and getting its supply chain involved in fundraising for the charity.


For more information call 01482 635 08, email or visit

all images courtesy of cutwork

‘Polyroom’ by cutwork opens endless possibilities for residential development

French design studio cutwork introduces ‘polyroom’, a prototype for prefab modular studio units designed for endless applications. conceived as an effort to reinvent the traditional french family living model, the structures are fully adaptable and can be stacked together like LEGO bricks to form brand new residential developments. what’s more, the custom interiors can be reconfigured for different usages, opening a wide range of possibilities in the compact space.

Polyroom explores how off-site, modular construction can help us build better, faster, and cheaper

Combating the rising housing crisis with stackable modules

The ‘polyroom’ concept was born to confront the rising housing crisis that has been concerning individuals in the last few years. according to cutwork, the UN has projected that by 2050, there will be 3 billion more people living in cities than today. if this continues at the current rate of growth for housing, more than 2 billion new homes will be constructed by the end of the 21st century — this means building a one-million person city every week.

Responding to this situation, the french practice designed polyroom as a singular module that can be produced in bulk and stacked like LEGO bricks to build complete residential blocks (polybloc) in significantly less time than conventional construction methods. modular construction can enable quick, adaptive urbanization across diverse conditions, constraints, and contexts.‘ it’s not only about building objects and spaces; it’s about crafting the systems to build them – systems to help solve the challenges ahead.’ the cutwork team shares.

Polyroom units can be used to create a rural low-rise

Adaptable interiors and planted ‘living balconies’

Polyroom is shaped as a 21 sqm (226 sqft) prefab module with interiors that can be reconfigured throughout the day to accommodate changing everyday needs and various activities. this idea is deeply inspired by the ‘washitsu’ or ‘tatami room’  — a centralized room in japanese homes that has no predefined or single dedicated purpose, but rather is an adaptive space that can take any shape responding to the inhabitants’ preferences.

Beds that disappear, foldable kitchen cabinets, rail systems with modular accessories and hidden storage space in every corner complete the interior of each unit, making for a completely rearrangeable space that can accommodate a wide range of different activities and lifestyles. in addition, cutwork has also conceived the polyrooms to promote greater biodiversity in neighborhoods, with generously planted ‘living balconies’, façades and rooftops.

Generously planted ‘living balconies’ promote a closer relationship with nature

The first polyroom implementation opens in 2023

The first implementation of the ‘polyroom’ prototype will be a co-living complex in bordeaux, france, with an arrangement of interconnected units. cutwork has partnered with bouygues immobilier, one of the largest real estate developers and operators in france, to realize the project which is expected to open in 2023. meanwhile, the company plans to open 15 sites by 2025, totaling 2,500 bedrooms for future residents.

Source: Design Boom

Gaynor Tennant – Co-Founder and Chair of the Offsite Alliance and Simon Griffiths – Head of Sales, Offsite Construction at Sika 


As part of its commitment to offsite manufacturing across the nation, Sika has joined the Offsite Alliance, a membership organisation that increases the uptake and delivery of offsite technologies in the residential sector.

With offsite’s benefits clear to see, Sika’s membership will further enhance offsite manufacturing’s adoption across the UK. Sika will draw on its world-leading status as a manufacturer and supplier of construction materials for a wide variety of applications, to drive the construction industry closer to the offsite manufacturing transformation it is calling out for.

Sika joins the Offsite Alliance at a time when it has a dedicated MMC Division that works with modular manufacturers to look at how Sika products can be used as part of the process in this fast-growing sector. Sika’s decision to be part of the Offsite Alliance signifies the company’s commitment to the offsite manufacturing effort. Through a combination of action and collaboration, Sika will work with fellow like-minded organisations to promote best practice, share innovation and work together to create the high quality, sustainable homes of the future.

Speaking of the news, Simon Griffiths – Head of Sales, Offsite Construction at Sika said: “We are delighted to have joined the Offsite Alliance. We see a perfect strategic fit. We have a great team at Sika, who in many cases, are already involved in driving forward industry and association agendas. We see this addition as a natural step forward to working collaboratively with the MMC industry, to raise the profile and standards, and to help deliver the aspirations of the industry.”

Founded in 2019, the Offsite Alliance works alongside leading organisations, industry bodies, government, local authorities, housing associations, and most importantly, its members, to cultivate adoption of offsite technologies across the residential sector.

Sika is an international market leader offering the industry’s widest product ranges for sealing and bonding, roofing, building finishing, passive fire protection, damping and reinforcing, concrete, flooring, waterproofing and wall finishes for interior and exterior applications, and bathroom pod waterproofing and tiling systems. Sika delivers construction solutions that not only meet the most demanding specifications of the building industry, they improve manufacturing efficiency and quality – making Sika a worthy addition to the Offsite Alliance.


For more information please call 01707 394444, or visit

Premier Modular, one of the UK’s leading offsite construction specialists, has been awarded a £9.8m project for Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to build a 62-bed Priority Assessment Unit at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey.

 Main contractor Premier will be supported by strategic delivery partner Claritas Group. Due for completion by summer 2021, this fast-track building project will reduce the programme by up to nine months compared to in-situ construction. The speed of offsite manufacturing and fitting out will allow earlier occupation to support the increased demand for emergency care.

Designed by BDP and delivery architects P+HS, the two-storey scheme will provide a new Priority Assessment Unit. It will be linked to the Emergency Department and will accommodate 62 patient bays, nurse stations, staff rooms, seminar rooms, laundry, clean utilities, and kitchenettes. The new unit will be fitted with medical gases, datacomms, security systems, CCTV, nurse call systems, and fully integrated with the main hospital.

Andrew Grimes, Assistant Director of Property and Capital Development, said, “This project forms part of the Trust’s emergency pathway redevelopment programme, which is now underway, and responds to the urgent national need to increase capacity in emergency care.”

“Offsite construction means less time on site and therefore much less disruption to patient care, which is a priority for the Trust. The Premier solution met the technical constraints of this site, particularly to provide seamless connections at two levels to maintain patient flows between the existing Emergency Department. Premier has demonstrated the flexibility and design capabilities to engineer a bespoke solution for this challenging site, with all the speed, quality and value benefits of offsite construction. We look forward to the successful delivery of this much needed new unit.”

Akshay Khera, Architecture Director at BDP, said, “This project is an example of how striking and unique architectural design, that is also in keeping with its surroundings, can be successfully married with delivery via offsite construction, bringing many benefits including speed, quality and efficiency.”

Dan Allison, Director of Premier Modular, said, “This scheme is ideally suited to offsite construction. It allows the Trust to meet an urgent need to expand capacity for emergency care and the development of a very constrained site. The new building will be located in a courtyard and close to the Emergency Department which will require careful logistical planning. We will be maximising construction and fitout work offsite to radically reduce disruption to patient care. This means we will only be on site for just over six months.”

The offsite solution has been engineered to maintain patient flows between the existing facilities and the new unit, with continuous level floors throughout. Externally, the assessment unit will be finished in vertical rainscreen cladding in shades of grey and brickwork to complement adjacent buildings.

The building envelope has been designed to be highly thermally efficient to reduce running costs and carbon emissions, and the picture windows will have solar control glass and integral brise soleil sunshading. A building energy management system (BeMS) will optimise energy use.

The project was procured through the Crown Commercial Service framework.

Premier develops bespoke building solutions for highly constrained hospital sites which may be completely inaccessible for in-situ construction. Existing facilities can also be expanded rapidly and cost effectively, both vertically and horizontally. Its specialist healthcare teams have the expertise to provide purpose-designed facilities for primary care, acute services, and mental healthcare.

Premier uses advanced offsite technology to construct fast-track healthcare schemes of the highest quality, with less disruption to staff and patients, improved quality, shorter build programmes, and greater assurance of completion on time and on budget.

For further information, visit, call 0800 316 0888 or email


AIMCH housebuilding innovation project publishes encouraging results for advanced MMC 

 Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH), the innovation consortium set up to transform the housebuilding sector, has today published its second-year progress report showing encouraging results and key learnings for the sector.  AIMCH is a three-year research & development project aiming to help tackle the UK housing crisis by building new homes faster, to higher quality and more cost effectively than masonry methods using panelised MMC systems.

This latest report to be published by AIMCH highlights several key learnings for the industry across several important and innovative areas. One of the highlights being able to achieve a weather tight, insulated and secure superstructure in just one day. All advanced panelised MMC systems and lean construction solutions trialled so far have been successful and early analysis is recognising the benefits of these advanced panelised MMC systems with the hard data to back it up.


Other important outputs of the project in the last year include the completion of several studies and the publication of guides for industry:

  • Design standardisation and the development of product families
  • Guide to creating a BIM housing manual
  • Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA)
  • Designing a future factory


Stewart Dalgarno, AIMCH Project Director and Stewart Milne Group Director of Product Development, said: “Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the project team has worked hard to build momentum and has delivered some important outputs which confirm panelised modern methods of construction (MMC) as a very real and viable alternative to masonry, over the final year, we hope to take this to a new level.”


Mark Farmer, MMC expert and new AIMCH Chair, said: “Mainstreaming all categories of MMC is more important than ever.  In a post-Covid world the sector needs to transform productivity, improve quality as well as improving the welfare of its workforce.  We also need to find more sustainable ways of building in order to achieve a net zero-carbon built environment.


“The AIMCH project has already made great progress across a number of fronts which will better enable greater MMC adoption across all parts of industry including   SME’s. The work done on design standardisation, panelised and sub-assembly system applications, productivity and carbon measurement and manufacturing process optimisation are all rich sources of knowledge for others to learn from and use.”

A collaboration between Stewart Milne Group, Barratt Developments, L&Q, Forster Group, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), the project compares conventional and panelised MMC construction methods on actual building sites, and the impact scaling up panelised modern methods of construction (MMC) will have on the housebuilding industry.

The three-year AIMCH project, which has been live since early 2019, has been trialling new digital design tools, manufacturing advancements, and improved near-to-market offsite panelised MMC systems, using lean site processes on live housing projects over the past two years.

The project recognises the challenges of MMC manufacturing and through engagement with MTC, lead manufacturing partner, has conducted advanced manufacturing and digital business systems studies.  These include down selection process for a integrated ERP system for MMC manufacturing and installation, along with detailed proof of concept studies into specific manufacturing areas, where using robotics and advanced automation can improve MMC manufacturing output, productivity, quality and lower costs, including the design of future factories using mathematical models, dynamic simulation and 3D technology to improve investment decisions.

With decarbonisation of the built environment a priority, the project embarked on a study to measure and profile Embodied Carbon and Whole Life Costing in the use of MMC systems across four housing types to current and near zero carbon standards.  A strategy for a proof of concept, near zero carbon home trial was also developed with Barratt Developments.

The project also recognises the importance of SMEs and through Forster Group, roofing specialist, has helped accelerate their roofing technology, through collaborative learning and proof of concept trials with MTC and the AIMCH developers. Dissemination is important and provided by CSIC including presenting at several key industry events, a dedicated industry stakeholder group, project website and social media.

The goal of the project is to support the sector by delivering 120,000 homes for the same or less cost than traditional methods and built 30% quicker. The project has potential to impact on 35,000 homes being delivered by AIMCH partners across the UK each year.

In the project’s final year, a number of outputs and learnings for the sector will be completed and shared on the AIMCH website as well as at industry events, with final findings published in March 2022


You can read the full report here

The £7.6m community assessment unit will deliver a new type of healthcare and is designed to help reduce emergency admissions. It will also ensure older patients can return home more quickly and with an appropriate care plan in place.

The handover marks the completion of the project delivered by Shrewsbury-based firm Darwin Group, specialists in offsite construction.

Despite the operational challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) has continued to work on this project which will be managed by the its community services division, supported by health partners across the borough.

The new community assessment unit

This major investment will see the introduction of 21 new community beds, including nine single rooms, with a further six assessment chairs.

It comes as the community team has developed new ways of working which focus on encouraging patient enablement and independence.

Silas Nicholls, chief executive of WWL, said: “The handover is an important milestone for the project to deliver what will be a vital component in our ability to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

“The community assessment unit will help ease the pressure on admissions, particularly in the winter months, and meet the needs of our ageing population in terms of providing additional support for those patients where hospital admission can be avoided and the appropriate care plan for recovery in their own home or residential setting.

“It has been an immense task to deal with the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic, but our community, support staff and Darwin Group have shown incredible commitment and resilience to reach this stage and we are delighted to formally take possession of the unit.”

Alan Davidson, healthcare director at Darwin Group, said: “We are proud to have been able to work with the trust and to deliver such high-quality ward accommodation. Not only will this provide much-needed additional patient accommodation and storage space for the whole site, but we have also future-proofed the building so it can be added to vertically if needed, giving the trust a potential solution to address future service demand.

“Our site team’s management of health and safety and our use of modern methods of construction have allowed us to work without interruption and deliver the project during national lockdowns, while meeting social distancing requirements and industry best practice. We are really pleased at how our team has pulled together to complete this project and overcome all challenges ensuring the safety of each other and everybody involved with the project.”

Philip Bliss, divisional medical director for community services, added: “The community assessment unit is a new venture for WWL. It is the first purpose-built, community-focused unit on the RAEI site, dedicated to the holistic assessment and treatment for some of the more frail and elderly patients coming through our services.

“It is very much focused on a reablement approach, to allow patients to return to their own home environment in a safe and supported manner. This will enable patients to make the most of their potential to continue to live an independent and fulfilling life.”

The unit is on the site of the former pathology lab and will have links physically and operationally to the hospital. It will be officially opened next month.

After declaring the UK government’s intention to deliver ‘Project Speed’, including a £3billion capital investment into the NHS, healthcare construction company MTX, welcomed the Prime Minister to their latest £12million, 72 bed, fast-track ward project at Hereford County Hospital.

The Prime Minister visited the construction site, keen to see for himself the, now close to completion, ward project aimed to deliver the NHS a total of 72 extra beds across 3 state-of-the-art wards, all in just 11 months.
All part of the government initiative to ‘to build better, to build greener, to build faster’ the new ward extension is being delivered using MTX’s fast-track construction methods that reduce the build time by up to 50%.
Talking on the PM’s twitter feed whilst on site, Boris described the project as “the beginnings of a new series of wards for Hereford County Hospital…. The first of the 20 new hospital upgrades that this government has embarked on….The beginning of a record programme of investment in our NHS’.


David Hartley, Managing Director of MTX – “The site team were excited to welcome the PM to our latest project and talk him through the clear benefits of these rapid construction methods. For this project, the building is largely built off-site in a factory, then transported and craned into position. This not only means we can deliver buildings much faster, but we can produce 60% less waste, ensure safer construction sites and all to the same standard and quality as a traditionally built hospital’.
With the Government’s ‘Project Speed’ well underway, described as “the most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the second world war”, there is also attempts to offset the economic impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the MTX offsite method of construction is leading the way to delivering on Boris’s promises.
MTX are a privately owned, Cheshire based, Healthcare Construction company specialising in the use of innovative, modern methods of construction to deliver fast-track building projects, throughout the UK. With more than 30 years healthcare experience, MTX believe using fast-track methods of construction is the best way to minimise the time spent on site, causing less noise and disruption, whilst still delivering a high quality, energy efficient solution.