Housing secretary tells Building others should follow examples of Taylor Wimpey and Vistry

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick is encouraging more housebuilders to reopen their sites after Taylor Wimpey and Vistry both said yesterday they were remobilising jobs.

This morning Persimmon, the country’s biggest firm by profit, announced it was reopening mothballed sites from Monday with its chief executive warning that individuals who flouted the firm’s new safety protocols would be subject to disciplinary action and removed from site.

Yesterday Taylor Wimpey said its sites would begin a phased reopening from 4 May while Vistry said the “majority” of its projects would start up again from Monday.

shut housing

Source: Shutterstock

Housing jobs large and small, such as this scheme on the Wirral, have been stopped by the covid-19 outbreak

Jenrick told Building: “I welcome developers reopening sites following careful consideration of public health guidance.

“Building the homes the country needs is vitally important. Work in construction can and should continue. I hope to see further housebuilders reopen shortly – once they’ve also worked through how to meet social distancing guidelines and protect their workforce.”

Taylor Wimpey said the reopenings will only apply to its jobs in England and Wales.

It has also introduced a code of conduct to make sure rules are being followed which it said employees and subcontractors will have to sign up to before setting foot on jobs.

And Vistry said the proportion of staff it has been forced to furlough since sites shut would reduce as work restarted.

Last week Building reported that nearly three quarters of housing sites had shut due to coronavirus lockdown measures.

The moves by Taylor Wimpey and Vistry are the latest signs of life returning to residential development, following news this week that student housing developer Unite is reopening some sites and brickmaker Michelmersh is firing up kilns again.