Kier Group is set to walk away from the traditional housebuilding model to focus on social housing and its construction business, marking the first major group to exit from private home development.

'There’s a sea-change in how we’re running the business,' John Dodds, chief executive, said. 'The traditional model of housebuilding – buying land, putting up a house, selling it on spec – is something that will disappear from our business.'

Prior to the housing downturn, Kier had been the 15th largest housebuilder in the UK, according to industry figures, putting up about 2,000 homes a year. In the past two months its activity levels were down by 76%, however, in line with other developers.

Its focus now is to be on 'partnership housing', acting as a contractor for public agencies looking to build social units.

Financial Times, The Times