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Editorial

UK brick production on the upturn

House building picked up at the fastest pace for more than a decade last year, but in October, according to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, brick stocks fell to a record low of 323million.

The construction industry is well on its way to rebuilding itself after the recession, thanks to Government initiatives such as the Help To Buy scheme. However, with 30 manufacturing plants mothballed during the financial crisis, UK brick production has not been meeting the demand.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that 464 million bricks were produced in the UK during the first quarter of 2015

In 2015 we have seen some positive steps towards improving this situation. Despite the low stock levels, there was in fact a significant increase in the number of bricks manufactured in the UK in 2014, to 1.8 billion, 17% more than 2013. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that 464 million bricks were produced in the UK during the first quarter of 2015, a rise of 5% from the same period in 2014.

One new brick manufacturing plant was opened in Chesterton in 2014, as well as four previously mothballed plants in Ewhurst, Accrington, Hartlebury and Claughton. Freshfield Lane Brickworks reported in February that it had expanded its capacity by 20% to 36 million bricks per year.

This upturn means Elliotts has had no problem in supplying clients with any brick orders. We hold huge stocks of bricks from All About Bricks, Baggeridge, Freshfield Lane, Hammill, Hanson LBC, Ibstock, Michelmersh and Terca Warnham.

Solutions

With the current Government pledging to build 200,000 houses per year there is a need for the UK brick manufacturing to increase even further and maintain a stable level for the foreseeable future. However, it costs an estimated £50 million to plan and construct a new manufacturing plant, so construction companies and local authorities must also consider other suitable solutions.

Different brick styles

The UK's manufacturing plants currently produce around 1200 individual styles of brick, leading to severe deficits of some and excess of others. Planning authorities could be more flexible when an exact brick match is not available, which would reduce wait times. Our extensive Brick Library at our Southampton branch is a great place to explore all your brick options.

Alternative methods of construction

The last time the UK suffered a shortage of bricks was after World War II and it led to an increase of concrete tower blocks, prefabricated metal and timber houses. Concrete bricks faced with sand can provide a relatively close visible match to traditional red bricks.

Make an appointment with us to carry out brick matches on site or to deliver samples for consideration on your project. Contact Helen Lawless on 023 8038 5389.

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