The formula to MMC success

  • 7th February 2024

Retirement community developer, McCarthy Stone, starts work on its tenth MMC site in the last three years, with more in the pipeline

McCarthy Stone’s first MMC scheme, in Hexham, opened in 2021 and was delivered significantly faster than traditionally-constructed sites

McCarthy Stone, the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities, is driving forward its use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and is set to start work on its tenth development to be built in full using this approach since 2021.

Once complete, it will deliver 473 specialist retirement properties, with more MMC schemes planned.

The announcement follows last week’s letter from the chairman of the Built Environment Committee to the Government stating that the UK has so far failed to build MMC homes in meaningful numbers, and shows how the issues the committees raises can be overcome.

Faster and greener

As a national first for a UK developer, McCarthy Stone has a partnership with Remagin (formely Sigmat), Europe’s leading manufacturer of panelised structural steel frames, to use its eco-friendly Light Gauge Steel Frame (LGSF) MMC solution, where the panels are built in a factory and then assembled onsite, helping it to build faster, greener, and more affordably.

Three schemes are already complete and open and four more will complete by the end of this year, with a further three due to start on site shortly.

The first scheme, in Hexham, opened in 2021 and was delivered significantly faster than traditionally-constructed sites, saving around 15% in time despite adverse weather conditions.

And it was completed with half the number of defects expected to be found on a traditional scheme.

More-recent schemes have saved around 20% in build time.

McCarthy Stone and Remagin have also evolved their approach over recent years, with windows, external doors and external insulation now also fitted in the factory, further reducing risks and delays.

Future developments will also progressively incorporate a streamlined closed panel solution to maximise the benefits of MMC.

Peter Forsyth, director of strategic initiatives at McCarthy Stone, said: We’ve had plenty of success with MMC thanks to our partnership with Remagin.

“MMC is helping us to further increase our build quality, control our costs, and, most importantly, build more energy-efficient and greener communities.

A new scheme in Failsworth is set to complete this year

Focused approach

“Our focused approach to MMC and our secure pipeline of consented land means we have found the right formula to enable us to use it to accelerate housing delivery.

“MMC is now becoming a key component of our development pipeline.”

David Bridges, chief investment officer at Homes England, added: “Having an established pipeline of projects is absolutely crucial for the MMC sector to grow, so it’s great to see McCarthy Stone’s continued commitment to delivering multiple MMC schemes.

“We’re involved in their scheme at Failsworth, which is set to complete this year, as well as Erdington, Bradford, and Huyton, all of which are expected to commence construction shortly.”

And Scott Bibby, country manager for Ireland & UK at Remagin, said:

“Despite recent adverse media publicity about MMC, Remagin’s partnership with McCarthy Stone proves that, with the right collaborative approach, MMC is still very much a solution to the challenges of today’s housing market.

Aggregating demand

“Through partnering together, we have been able to develop and fine-tune a highly-energy-efficient product which delivers speed, quality and consistency of build, while also addressing cost and affordability concerns.

“The future of our partnership looks exciting.”

McCarthy Stone has also written to the Housing Minister to note how the use of MMC could be deployed successfully across the later living sector, including setting specific targets, aggregating demand, aligning supplier solutions by using a standard ‘chassis’ approach, and investing in qualification and regulation frameworks to create simple standards and approval processes.

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