Hackney Council’s ‘Timber First’ policy, which prioritises the use of wood as a primary construction material, is just one great case of successful, sustainable timber construction.

Just 111 deliveries of materials were needed during the construction of Dalston Lane - Hackney Council’s landmark project and the largest timber housing project in the world - compared with over 700 deliveries on a typical concrete and steel project.

2,325 trees, which absorbed otherwise harmful CO2, were used to build Dalston Lane. As well as reducing the carbon footprint of material production, on-site time and energy consumption were also significantly reduced. The projects outstanding benefits were recognised by being shortlisted for several architectural awards, including the Architects’ Journal sustainability award. Its attractive end-product has also seen timber construction pick up several prestigious Hackney Design Award’s.

This kind of sustainability will be crucial if the government is to meet its ambitious target or reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 - and just demonstrated the credentials timber is already bringing to the UK housing market.


The success of Hackney Council’s ‘Timber First’ policy coincided with the recent publication of the London Assembly’s ‘Designed, sealed, delivered’ report, which calls on the Mayor of London to utilise offsite manufactured homes to help provide more homes for Londoners.

Legal & General, for example, took over 9,000 homes from Richmond Council and committed to building thousands of timber-framed flats and houses offsite for Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP). RHP bought them for at least 15 per cent below the standard cost for onsite construction and is set to rent them out for just £600-£700. This is staggering considering the rent for a single-bed flat in the Richmond area typically costs upwards of £1000 a month. This is a great example of timber construction being used to deliver truly affordable homes.

The case for timber outside the capital is also strong. In Tidworth, Wiltshire, 322 timber-framed homes were built for the Ministry of Defence service personnel. The timber-frames were manufactured, delivered to site and erected in just 13 months - a great example of homes being built on time and in budget.


We’ve established the benefits of timber-framed construction, but we also appreciate the massive pressure housebuilders are under to build quicker and more efficiently. To do this they need a reliable supply chain - Sodra can help.

Following our acquisition of Gloucestershire-based Crown Timber in early 2017, we’ve bolstered our distribution network and streamlined our service to the UK. With the ability to supply high-quality timber to our timber frame manufacturer customers in just 48 hours, their housebuilder clients can depend on our supply chain to get the job done in the timeframes they require.

From seed through to customer, sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do. With openness and a long-term approach, we’re developing relationships that generate added value for our customers, owners and forests. These relationships resonate through everything we do. We make sure that we meet our customers; take them to our forests; get to know them; and work with them to develop the very best timber solutions for them.

Crucially, for every tree felled Sodra plants another three, and operate in line with a tree’s own lifecycle. What this means is that after around 70 years, a tree stops taking in carbon dioxide - only then do we cut it down and replace it. This means the environment is receiving optimum benefit, and because we’re replacing three-fold, we’re creating a long-term, sustainable supply. Sodra is all about planting and growing for future generations and doing it in an ethical way.


We also have strategic sustainable objectives in place for how our business operates. For instance, we’re committed to totally fossil-free production by 2020; by 2030, so will transportation; and by 2050 the annual rate of forest growth on estates owned by Sodra’s members will be 20 per cent higher than 2015. These commitments make us one of the most sustainable organisations in the industry.


Timber frame construction currently accounts for around a quarter of housebuilding in England and Wales, but we expect to see this increase in 2018 as the UK looks to examples like Hackney Council’s ‘Timber First’ policy - and the growing success of timber-framed homes across the world.

Factory-based construction was up 15 per cent In Germany and Japan, and timber frames account for 76 per cent of housebuilding in Scotland. Our own structural timber exports to the US are also expected to increase by 25 per cent in 2018. With timber already leading the way in other parts of the world, the UK must follow suit to achieve its own housebuilding objectives.


The construction industry needs to diversify if it’s to meet government housebuilding targets. Timber offers an alternative solution and I truly believe in its ability to solve the UK’s housing crisis.

Sodra can help lead the way. We know the market - our team has worked with our customers to supply the UK housing industry for many years, so we know what developers need. We’re also a truly integrated company. We don’t just provide timber - we also grow it. We’re a part of the process, from planting and harvesting, to delivering the final components to the timber frame manufacturer.

With a reliable, high-quality product and streamlined UK distribution network, we offer complete assurance that we can help housebuilders get the job done. 2018 is set to be a massive year for timber construction and we’re looking forward to the challenge.

TEL: +446 470 89 000 31


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