Commitment to “sustainable” wood in Powys council homes will be good for the region

A commitment to building and fitting-out future council homes in Powys with local, sustainable wood materials is welcome and will provide additional economic opportunities in the area, according to a local architect.

Powys County Council has revealed the adoption of a Wood Encouragement Policy as part of the Home Grown Homes Partnership. It will see sustainable wood used in all future council home building projects throughout the county.

Doug Hughes, principal architect and managing director of Hughes Architects, which has offices in Newtown, Welshpool, Aberystwyth and Cardiff, says the policy by a public sector organisation could help spearhead the adoption and use of wood in more building projects in more public and private sector projects.

“Using local, sustainable wood in construction projects is important not only from the perspective of the individual building project, but in terms of the wider benefits, such as sourcing the wood from local businesses which are growing timber within sustainable woodlands and thus supporting employment and investment in the local economy,” said Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes, who is also a director of WoodKnowledge Wales, an independent organisation championing the development of wood-based industries for increased prosperity and well-being in Wales, added the environmental benefits were also good for the locality.

“Using sustainable, locally sourced materials means less transportation and the utilisation of key materials that we create and grow locally. As building designers and planning consultants, we understand the benefits of using such products and wherever possible work with clients to develop residential and commercial projects that utilise sustainable products, including locally sourced timber.”

In its statement on the policy, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, Cabinet member for Housing at Powys County Council said: “Adopting the Wood Encouragement Policy demonstrates our support for the Homegrown Homes project, highlights local timber as a sustainable building product and recognises the value of the forestry and timber industry to the economy of Powys.

“The forest and wood products industry is extremely important to employment and economic development in rural areas and the Homegrown Homes project provides a great opportunity for us to lead the way to help build a skilled, resilient and sustainable county.”

Powys County Council’s Wood Encouragement Policy states: 

This Policy seeks to:  

• help stimulate sustainable economic development within the timber/wood products industry and encourage development of added value products;

• encourage services to consider the use of wood in the construction and fit out of council buildings, development and infrastructure (within any grant constraints);

• encourage developers, particularly those creating social and affordable housing to consider the use of wood in the construction and fit out of homes;

• recognise the benefits that make wood a smart choice for council buildings, development and infrastructure; 

• encourage education, best practise, knowledge-transfer and take up of careers in the timber supply chain;

• encourage the use of wood in demonstration projects across Powys; 

demonstrate local and national leadership by adopting this policy

Implementation: 

 

Powys County Council will:

• ensure that all briefs for new Council housing projects (subject to any grant constraints) incorporate the requirement to use wood as the preferred material for both construction and fit out purposes, where wood is deemed a suitable and cost effective material for the proposed application;

• seek those who can find, practical, efficient, versatile and cost-effective building and design solutions using wood when sourcing design and architectural expertise for such projects;

• ensure that all comparisons to the cost of building with other materials will take into account all long-term and life cycle benefits of using wood;

• where possible, source locally and home produced wood products for construction and fit out purposes; 

• use development, planning and procurement processes to maximise opportunities for targeted recruitment and training in the timber industries;

• be a champion of the forest and wood products industry, by establishing a Wood Encouragement Policy and demonstrating commitment to the further development of the local forest and wood products industry; 

• actively seek demonstration projects that showcase the use of wood within the County and Wales;  

• actively work to support existing and attract new, innovative wood products manufacturers to Powys.