How new homes are still being built during lockdown

Construction work is continuing on new housing developments across Somerset during lockdown – though strict restrictions remain in place.

A number of the UK’s major house-building companies are currently working on new homes across the county, whether it’s putting in the first foundations or applying the finishing touches.

With the imposition of a third national lockdown by the government, you’d be forgiven for thinking that progress would either have slowed to a crawl or stopped altogether.

But while some sites have seen this – such as the Churchill retirement complex being built in Taunton town centre – others are managing to power on through while keeping both their workforce and local residents safe.

Here’s what major house-builders are doing to keep going during lockdown:

Barratt Homes/ David Wilson Homes

Construction work on 94 homes on Sandys Moor in Wiveliscombe
Construction work on 94 homes on Sandys Moor in Wiveliscombe
(Image: Daniel Mumby)

Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes both have a number of sites which are partly completed – including the Moorland Gate estate in Bishops Lydeard, Elworthy Place in Wiveliscombe and Coat Grove in Martock.

The former also intends to shortly begin work on 142 homes on the Blackdown Heights site on Crimchard in Chard – plans for which were approved by South Somerset District Council in February 2020.

As part of the construction effort, the companies have put strict procedures in place for all those on site, including:

  • Temperature checks on arrival
  • Hand sanitisation stations
  • Site signage and welfare facilities
  • Designated site access and walkways to enable social distancing

A spokesman said: “Health and safety is our number one priority on all of our construction sites.

“Enhanced risk assessments have been carried out, together with additional training and support for both employees and sub-contractors.

“We also want to play our part in the national effort to vaccinate against covid-19. As well as ensuring our people have the information and the time they need to receive the vaccine themselves, we are encouraging our employees to volunteer and to help the NHS roll out the vaccines where they live.”

Bloor Homes South West

An artist's impression of what some of the homes on the Bancombe Road development will look like once finished
An artist’s impression of what some of the homes on the Bancombe Road development will look like once finished
(Image: Bloor Homes South West)

Bloor Homes has been working on new homes in Wilstock Village in Bridgwater and Longforth View in Wellington.

It also intends to begin construction in the near-future on The Wick site in Weston-super-Mare and 71 homes on the Somerton Mead site on Bancombe Road in Somerton, not far from the town’s new primary school.

A spokesman said: “We would like to reassure our customers, our employees, our contractors and partners that they remain our priority.

“We are following strict guidelines across all of our developments and in line with government recommendations, therefore, we will not be closing our sites.

“We will continue to implement the necessary hygiene practices in accordance with Public Health England guidelines, to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

“Our sales teams will be adhering to the two-metre distance rule during all appointments, protective face masks and gloves will be provided to our sales teams and key surfaces within our sales offices will be sanitised after each visit.”

The company is also offering virtual appointments to those unwilling or unable to visit one of the development sites in person.

Persimmon Homes

Persimmon Homes is currently constructing 110 homes at Foxglove Heights in Wells, as well as other sites including Westminster Walk in Bridgwater and Agusta Park in Yeovil (among others).

Somerset West and Taunton Council approved plans in September 2020 for 101 new homes at Hartnells Farm as part of the Monkton Heathfield urban extension near Taunton.

The company has published a full list of guidelines for its staff online, requiring both direct employees and sub-contractors to obey the following at all times:

  • Travel to site alone where possible and avoid public transport
  • Avoid physical contact and close working with others – either work alone or to “keep to their own gang”
  • Maintain at least two metres from others wherever possible while working
  • Use passing points on walkways and avoid unnecessary social contact when moving around the site
  • Bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home – avoid leaving the site and do not visit local shops
  • Wear a face covering in all canteen areas, except when seated at a table to eat and drink
  • Practice good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly, and avoid touching surfaces or sharing tools and equipment

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes said: “The health, safety and well-being of our workforce, customers, suppliers and our wider communities is our priority.

“Following a detailed risk assessment comprehensive covid-19 policies and procedures have been implemented across all areas of our business.”

Taylor Wimpey

Aerial photo of the Comeytrowe urban extension in Taunton
Aerial photo of the Comeytrowe urban extension in Taunton
(Image: Ben Holton)

Taylor Wimpey is continuing to hold visits to its Kings Down development in Bridgwater, and is progressing with construction at both Haybridge in Wells and the Orchard Grove site (a.k.a. the Comeytrowe urban extension) on the western edge of Taunton.

Aerial photographs of the latter site show the first homes beginning to be built, along with the new spine road which will connect the homes and a new primary school to the A38 Wellington Road.

The company said that it had implemented strict protocols for all its active sites back in May 2020, and these would remain in place for as long as they were needed.

These protocols include perspex screens in sales offices, social distancing, regular hand-washing and staggered sign-in times for construction workers.

A spokesman said: “In line with the latest government guidance, our construction sites remain open in Somerset.

“Our sales offices and show homes also remain open for appointment-only visits, with strict social distancing protocols in place.

“Our priority remains the health and safety of our customers, employees, subcontractors and wider communities.

“We have introduced robust on-site protocols and continue to operate all our sites under strict covid-secure guidelines.”

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