Developer Citu hires BMW boss to oversee offsite construction

Grant Prior 3 weeks ago
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Developer Citu has appointed a former BMW manufacturing manager to oversee construction of two schemes in Leeds and Sheffield.

Steve Savage oversaw the production of Minis while at BMW

Steve Savage joins as operations director in charge of the manufacture and construction of Citu’s Climate Innovation District in Leeds and the Little Kelham development in Sheffield.

Savage will oversee the full construction journey of timber-framed homes from their manufacture in Citu’s purpose-built factory in Leeds to onsite assembly.

Savage worked for BMW for a decade where he oversaw the production of more than 2 million Minis at the company’s plant in Oxford.

Chris Thompson, managing director at Citu: “Steve’s background in the automotive industry and his passion for streamlining the manufacturing process to eliminate inefficiency aligns perfectly with our ethos.

“There has been an explosion in off-site housing construction over the past 18 months and most developers have gone down the modular route.

“At Citu, we’ve chosen the component route to give us much more flexibility of design and greater control over the energy-performance of each property. This means developing a whole new way of working.

“I’ve long been inspired by the car manufacturing model where the product is built in a factory to exacting standards, to be delivered on time to a set price and quality.

“This is exactly the approach we’re taking to achieve the high standards for sustainable, low carbon buildings.

“Over the last few years we’ve been developing a model which integrates the entire supply chain so that we can control every element of the design and construction in-house.

“Now, with Steve overseeing operations, we can benefit from his experience and ramp up productivity.”

Savage said: “What Citu is developing is a revolutionary way of working for the construction industry which will eliminate waste – both in terms of time and materials.

“The model it has established is already working, and we’re now honing the process.

“For example, in traditional construction methods if there’s a problem onsite with materials or how elements in the home fit together, a joiner or fabricator will apply a quick fix on the spot which can be costly in the long-term and compromises the quality of the home.

“Instead, we go right back to the design stage and find a solution to stop the issue happening again and feed this information all the way down the chain.

“Part of my remit is to ensure seamless flow and communication between every element of the process – design to manufacturing to construction.

“Key to this is Citu’s apprentice scheme which allows us to grow the next generation of skilled workers who are at the core of our business.”

Construction is underway for the next phase of homes at Little Kelham in Kelham Island, Sheffield; a growing community of 250 low-carbon homes and repurposed listed buildings.

The first properties are also being assembled on site at the Climate Innovation District in Leeds, which will feature 520 low carbon homes alongside leisure, offices and climate-resilient public realm.

Savage added: “A big change is needed in the construction industry if we are going to tackle climate change in a way that really makes a difference.

“I wanted to be part of Citu and its bold team willing and prepared to show that it can be done on scale while also creating better city centre places to live, work and play.

“Citu are actually making it happen and I feel fortunate to help drive that change.”

Once the Citu Works factory is up to capacity producing 750 homes a year, Citu plans to sell its Citu Homes to other developers and local authorities around the UK.

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