Polypipe Comment: Q3 2023

With the house building market in a particularly difficult position, performance in Q3 has been challenging for its suppliers, with volumes relatively flat. Consumer confidence improved throughout Q3 but in the medium term housing supply, held back particularly by planning approvals, is a far bigger problem than reduced housing demand caused by economic conditions.

The planning system has been described as “the worst it has ever been” by those who have worked in and around it for decades. Getting new housing plans approved is more difficult than ever, at a time when the UK needs new housing and the economic stimulus from it so desperately.

It’s impossible to overestimate the effect of climate change on the housebuilding industry, but for us at Genuit, climate is both an opportunity and a risk. Brought on by climate change, increasingly heavy rainfall and colder winters affect demand for plastic drainage products, storm and flood management, and heating systems for domestic properties requiring repair, maintenance or improvement. Similarly, increasingly hotter summers present opportunities for irrigation systems and cooling solutions, a market the UK has traditionally not needed to think much about.

Short term however, increasingly extreme weather impacts the housing supply chain. Heavy rainfall with localised flooding, or extremely cold temperatures which freeze the ground solid often bring housing construction to an immediate halt as groundworks cannot continue. That then delays demand for first and second-fix products: first fix being products used before the walls are plastered, and second fix the visible fittings and products such as flooring and tiling.

The future of housing supply in the UK must be focused on sustainable living. That’s a requirement and a duty on us all to protect the planet. It’s already causing us to fundamentally change the way we think about building, and improving housing from a carbon usage and content perspective. The additional challenge of the journey to net zero is to remember that the environment we’re aiming to protect is itself changing. The UK will continue to get more extreme weather, and our housing supply must flex to accommodate it to ensure we’re providing housing which is fit for the future.

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