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Annual housing starts up 13% in England

Words: Laura Edgar
New homes / iStock-172624927

The number of new-build homes starts is up 13 per cent to 164,960 in the year to June 2017 compared with the previous 12 month period, according to figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The data states that 153,330 new homes have been completed during the same period, an increase of 11 per cent compared with the year to June 2016.

It is estimated that there were 41,180 new-build starts in England in the quarter to June 2017, a decrease of three per cent compared with the previous three months, but 10 per cent higher than the same period in 2016.

Completions for the quarter to June 2017 are estimated at 40,310, 2 per cent higher than the previous quarter and 15 per cent higher than in 2016.

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma said: “Building more homes is an absolute priority for this government. These figures are proof that we are getting Britain building again, with new housing starts reaching record levels since 2009.

“It’s vital we maintain this momentum to deliver more quality homes in the places that people want to live. Our housing white paper set out an ambitious package of long-term reforms to do just that.”

According to the figures, there has been “strong growth” in Gloucestershire, South Derbyshire and South Norfolk in the number of housing starts.


Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive, said: “While there has been a small increase in homes being built, sadly we’re nowhere near touching distance of the 250,000 homes a year we desperately need.

“It’s also extremely worrying to see housebuilders shifting down a gear and starting to build even fewer homes when millions of families are struggling and in urgent need of an affordable home.

“The main reason for this persistent failure is the mammoth cost of land, which encourages developers to build at a snail’s pace and keep prices high and ensure they still make big profits.

“The government needs to introduce a new housebuilding system which lowers the cost of land and works with communities, rather than against them, to build the affordable homes families are crying out for.”

Dean Clifford, director and co-founder of Great Marlborough Estates, said: “Building more homes is undoubtedly a crucial step in tackling our chronic housing crisis. However, the government should also look to stamp duty reform as a way of increasing liquidity in the market, thereby freeing up existing homes. This tax on transactions creates a disincentive for those looking to downsize and makes it harder for young families to get on the housing ladder.”

James Allen, head of Walker Crips Alternative Investments, said the statistics should be met with “cautious optimism”.

“The trends for new house build starts and completions show that the market has recovered to pre-crisis levels. There is also significant convergence between the number of starts and completions which implies that there are few projects not being seen through to completion.”

However, for Allen, the data is not a cause for real celebration.

“It belies the deeper issue of housing supply. There is a maximum capacity for new builds from the private sector and at c140,000 (85 per cent of all new build starts) there is little room to increase activity. Housing associations have historically been able to deliver between 20,000-30,000 new units per annum so given they are currently producing c25,000 they will struggle to provide significantly more.”

Image credit | iStock