Richard Hough thinks it sounds the death knell for choice
First, let's consider the primary reason the undersupply exists. Fundamentally, the housing crisis is not caused by how the building is procured but by the fact that the planning systems do not release enough land for building. This puts pressure on developers to maximise the efficiency and value of the available land, particularly brownfield land where the costs of remediation affect viability.

Two of Swan Hill's brownfield developments illustrate this perfectly. Both are valuable sites, one in the town centre in Clifton, Bristol, the other in the centre of the village of Watersfield, Sussex. Both sites are irregular in shape and the Clifton project includes refurbishment of an existing building. To maximise their positions within the surrounding buildings, both require asymmetrical floor plans with unequal-length walls.

Flexibility of design is therefore a key ingredient in the success of both developments; the use of modular design or fixed bathroom units would have inhibited it.

Taking variety and choice out of housing design is not the answer

Richard Hough, commercial director at housebuilder Swan Hill

Another issue is customer choice. We resist the blocky, Soviet-style ubiquity that tends to be the result of extensive prefabrication – it does not give us the individuality and value we crave in our homes. We want more choice. Prefabrication reduces choice not just because of its appearance but also because the early need for, say, bathroom pods, means colours must be chosen before installation.

The authorities recognise the need for variety – CABE has not been formed to allow repetitive designs and anonymous housing, and planning committees expect houses to relate to their environment and respect local materials. Prefabrication of units will not assist in this.