The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries has launched an inquiry into how timber can help solve the housing crisis.

The House of Commons Library has estimated that between 240,000 and 340,000 new homes need to be built in England per year in order to tackle the existing housing shortfall, and all major political parties have made commitments to support new homes being built.

This inquiry will explore ways in which the timber industry can help to make those commitments a reality, focusing in particular on issues around skills shortages, sustainability and the capacity within the industry to do more in housing construction.

The first oral evidence session took place on Tuesday 9 July and brought together expertise from the worlds of architecture, housing associations, politics and the timber industry itself.

Attending was Martin Whitfield, East Lothian MP, Councilor Vincent Stops, London Borough of Hackney, Anthony Thistleton, Waugh Thistleton Architects Ltd, Ian Millard, Technical Director, L&Q, David Hopkins, Managing Director, Timber Trade Federation, Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive, British Woodworking Foundation, and Roy Wakeman OBE, Chair of the Confederation of Timber Industries.

Martin Whitfield, Chair of the APPG for the Timber Industries, said: “Timber is a product which can answer the need for affordable homes, provide workers with better employment opportunities, and help the UK reach net-zero emissions.

“This inquiry will open up the debate and help more people understand the incredible ways timber can be used in modern construction as a sustainable and versatile material.”

Wakeman said: “We know there is capacity in the industry which can be unlocked from with the right policies, regulatory framework, and partnership between the public and private sectors.

“By bringing together experts from across the timber supply chain - all the way from the forest to the finished house - we will be able to make an even greater contribution.”

Two further oral evidence sessions are planned in Wales and Scotland on Thursday 25 July and Wednesday 21 August respectively, with the final report of the inquiry to be launched in the House of Commons in late October.

Pictured: (L-R) Ian Millard, Helen Hewitt, Roy Wakeman, David Hopkins, Martin Whitfield, Anthony Thistleton, and Vincent Stops.