Top six housebuilder Westbury has put £10m into a new prefabricated division that it claims will halve building time.

The new outfit, which is called Space4, is due to start production in 2001 and is expected to turn out 5000 houses a year when fully operational, compared with the 4300 Westbury built conventionally in 1998. Assembly of each house’s internal structure will take two days, cutting total building time from 16 weeks to eight, the firm says.

Westbury has already produced prototype models of the houses, which it believes will set new standards for prefabricated housing.

Chief executive Martin Donohue said: “We believe the solution we are providing does exceed anything that’s been produced before. It allows for more finish with a greater degree of flexibility.” Donohue said that Space4 would initially supply Westbury’s own housebuilding needs but would then expand into the UK and European house markets. He added that Westbury would be launching further home-related firms.

At present, Space4 is being run by group marketing director Robin Davies, but Donohue said the firm was looking for a new boss from the manufacturing sector.

The firm will be based in a former double glazing factory at Castle Bromwich near Birmingham, and will have an initial workforce of 120.