Your lead story on the CASPAR housing scheme in Leeds (28 October) illustrates perfectly the folly of the prescriptive approach to specifying how houses and flats should be built.
Following on from the Greenwich Millennium Village’s problems reported in Building, surely it is time to rip up the lists of preferred construction methods that have been published without any basis in science or on their actual track record. Such lists have produced not one extra new house or apartment and have just pushed up costs and subsidies.
With the exaggeration of shortages of bricklayers and blocklayers now behind us we should move immediately to a series of performance standards that all systems – off-site, on-site or hybrid – should measure up to. These standards must, of course, include structural resistance to severe winds, fabric resistance to wind-blown debris, as well as the other key sustainability criteria of durability (surely 200 years minimum), fire, robustness to entry, whole-life energy performance, acoustic performance, resistance to flood and pests, and comfort in high and low external temperatures.
Lists of systems using modern methods of construction are clearly failing to add to the housing stock in either quantity or quality. Time to recognise the fact and move on.
Martin Clarke, chief executive, British Precast