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Give prefab housing a smooth passage

LORD Falconer's plan to ease the housing crisis with prefabricated, low-rent housing for teachers, nurses and the police must rank as one of his better ideas.

Sadly, this sensible attempt to tackle a complex problem was attacked by key trade unions and the national press.

The fact that the planning minister is a socialist peer who famously owns two homes, one worth £1.5 million, may explain the misplaced derision that greeted his 'prefabs' solution.

But there is a serious issue behind the headlines - the public perception that prefabricated equals substandard.

The industry has itself to blame for this misconception.The high-profile failures of the past are down to bad design, corner-cutting and poor regulation.

Today, prefabrication should equate to good practice.

Properly overseen, it can deliver affordable, quality housing in our big cities.

What is needed now is a body or government official with power to push forward the plan and ensure that land release for it is not snared in bureaucracy. It should also ensure that quality becomes a consequence of prefabrication, not a victim of it.