Michael Portillo tells Ecobuild audience Government must build more council homes

Former defence secretary turned television personality Michael Portillo called on Theresa May’s Government to take a more interventionist stance in the housing market – and build more council homes.

That was the essence of a speech Portillo gave during his appearance at Ecobuild yesterday, where housing, particularly sustainable housing, found itself top of the agenda.

Earlier in the day, Tony Pidgley, chairman of Berkley Homes, calling for Government to slash more red tape to avoid “clogging up” the planning system. Speaking at The Arena, the theatre area located in the heart of this year’s Ecobuild event, Pidgley labelled current processes “a crime” and called for the Government to use the recently launched housing white paper to bring the industry together and streamline regulation.

Beyond The Arena it was standing room only at many seminar sessions, with Performance Lab, Explore Offsite masterclasses and the Build Circular areas proving particularly popular as visitors to the show explored the fresh ideas and emerging technologies within the built environment.

Alongside the busy Ecobuild Conference and seminar programme, the first day of the show saw several launches including the unveiling of a Green Infrastructure Design Challenge by the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). Hadley Group also launched a design competition for student architects with a prize worth up to £6,000.

Day one of the show was packed with new product launches such as an innovative range of advanced thermal imaging cameras for electrical, mechanical, and building applications from FLIR Systems and a new concrete for the power sector from Hanson UK. Smart Systems also unveiled its new Visofold 6000 system at the event while design studio Freiraum Kollective showcased its Pallet Homes Project to create homes in Kenya.

“[The day’s] show was a roaring success, with lots of thought-provoking discussions and debates on regeneration and redefining sustainability, plus some fantastic new products that are the very best examples of innovation and creativity,” said Martin Hurn, managing director of Futurebuild, owners of Ecobuild. “[Wednesday] is set to offer another day of agenda-setting discussion and new innovations. It will also be set against the back drop of The Budget so we’re expecting further debate on the Government’s role and commitment to the sustainability and the built environment.”

Ecobuild is running from March 7-9 at ExCel, London.

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