‘Downturn good time for housing strategy change’

Professor Friedman indicated that the construction industry in particular had a huge opportunity to re-think their approach. Mr Friedman said people should be able to choose new homes which offered a menu of options on how to use the living space – a space which could be adapted as their circumstances and needs changed.

He also pointed to the need to innovate around construction times. In Canada it takes three months to build a home – in the UK it takes a year.

Claire Martin, CIH South East chair, said: "The social housing sector has a strong record of working innovatively in good times and bad and we should not let the current recession deflect us from our long-term aims.

"The sector can influence the way we build our communities and it is right we take this moment to work with our partners and developers to shape the future."

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