ONE of Britain's biggest housebuilders has begun a phased re-opening of its construction sites in Wiltshire.

Barratt Developments, parent company of Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes, began work this week on four sites in Wiltshire.

They were Western Meadow at Calne, Birds Marsh View in Chippenham, Laywood in Devizes, and Sandridge Place in Melksham.

But showhomes and sales centres will remain closed for now.

Chris Burton, regional managing director for the West region at Barratt, said:

"Our first priority is the health and safety of our employees, sub-contractors and customers.

"We have created a detailed set of working practices and protocols for employees and sub-contractors to ensure that we can re-open our construction sites safely, in a phased and measured way, which minimises risk.

"In line with our commitment to put our customers first, we will be prioritising the completion of those homes that our customers have already exchanged or reserved.

"I would also like to thank our employees who have been fantastic during this challenging time, both those who have worked hard to get us ready to restart and our employees who are not currently working.

He added: "As a business committed to doing the right thing we have been supporting the NHS and our communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have donated PPE to local NHS services and defibrillators to St John's Ambulance from our sites across the region and are working with charities and organisations to help local communities.

"We are also encouraging staff to volunteer and use their time to do whatever they can to help people during this difficult period."

Initially 20 sites across the South West, including other developments in Gloucestershire, Bristol, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, will be re-opened.

Work is being prioritised on already sold plots at advanced stages of construction.

In line with the lockdown retail regulations, the company is not re-opening its sales centres or show homes yet, but will continue to look after its customers remotely.

Anyone looking to buy a new home at their developments can still do so by getting in touch with Barratt Homes.

A detailed set of working practices and protocols has been developed by Barratt so that its construction sites can operate safely and in line with the latest guidance from government, public health authorities and the Construction Leadership Council.

This includes changes to signage, site welfare facilities and compounds, site access and walkways. These measures have already successfully been implemented on one of its sites as a pilot.

A nominated social distancing marshal will also be present on all sites to ensure compliance and the company will provide induction, training and support for its employees and sub-contractors.