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Anxiety at Barker's prefab push

The Town and Country Planning Association has issued a stark warning over the Barker Review's commitment to prefabrication.

The association is concerned that the Treasury review - which issued its preliminary findings last week - has already recommended 'off-site manufacture as a quick-fix solution'.

Director Gideon Amos told the AJ that neither the Treasury nor its investigation 'are known for their commitment to good design' and are understood to see a hike in prefabrication manufacture as the easiest way of solving the housing crisis.

The Barker Review has so far concluded that the drought in new houses is creating instability in the UK economy and has recommended that Britain needs 146,000 more new homes a year.

Its author Kate Barker is set to issue a full report to coincide with the budget next April, which will formally unveil measures that will trigger increases in housebuilding.

But Amos insisted that prefab 'is certainly not the way to go'.

He said: 'It seems that off-site manufacture is one of the very few solutions that Barker has assessed. We believe that this is not the right solution.

'This is maybe a short-term method for easing the housing crisis, but it will not help in the long term.

'What we need is lifetime durable homes that will not need to be brought down in just a few years, ' he added. 'The Treasury must look carefully at what history has taught us about the way prefabs have worked.'

The RIBA also expressed concern about Barker's commitment to off-site manufacture. 'It is obviously a major issue for the membership, ' said Jonathan Labrey, head of government relations.

'These issues needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis.We will tell the Treasury that it is not the answer if it is looking for this quick-fix solution. But all involved should be aware that prefab building methods can be a useful tool in some circumstances.'

The Treasury was unavailable for comment.

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