Prefabs get listed status

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The Independent Online
Sixteen prefab bungalows built in 1945 under the wartime Temporary Housing Act were yesterday added to the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest - the first prefabs to be awarded the accolade.

Decades older than their expected lifespan, the council-owned prefabs in Wake Green Road, Birmingham, are still much-loved homes, but English Heritage feared their character was at risk from a re-roofing scheme.

About 156,000 temporary houses were built under the Act between 1944 and 1948, when government funds dried up well short of Winston Churchill's goal of half a million new homes.

Most have either been demolished or totally altered by brick cladding. Aluminium prefabs oxidised away and 8,000 timber-framed homes imported from the United States collapsed after15 years.

The Wake Green Road homes listed in Grade II yesterday by Tony Banks, the heritage minister, are a particularly well-preserved group of the rare Phoenix type of which less than 2,500 were built. Most of the detached homes retain original features such as fitted interiors and garden sheds.

English Heritage has just carried out a thematic study of post-war public housing. However the Wake Green listing was hurried forward because of plans by Birmingham City Council to carry out renovation work. With timber and bricks in short supply, the Phoenix pre-fabs were put together from asbestos sheets on concrete foundations. Elain Harwood, the EH inspector responsible for post-war buildings research, said the bungalows were "warm and snug ... everybody who is living in them has been there for years and years and won't budge".