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Housing starts rise

House building in England rose to its highest level since 2007 last year, the government says, with planning reforms boosting new projects along the pipeline.

According to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), there were 36,230 new housing starts in England between April and June, an increase of 18 per cent on the same quarter last year.

The total number of starts over the past 12 months was 137,780, a 22 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest level of house building since 2007.

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said more homes were being built owing to the government’s action to help homebuyers and fix the broken housing market.

Almost 40,000 households have bought a home through Help to Buy, with over 80 per cent of sales going to first time buyers purchasing new build homes.

The construction sector is experiencing the sharpest rise in house building orders since 2003, the figures showed.

DCLG said that reforms to the planning system were helping to push new projects down the pipeline, with successful applications for major housing schemes up 23 per cent. Planning permissions were granted for 216,000 new homes.

The number of homes sold under Right to Buy between April and June rose 31 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Lewis said: “This progress did not happen by accident. It bears testament to our efforts to reform the planning system and help homebuyers while paving the way for house builders to boost their output. But there’s still more to do, and improving the housing market will remain a vital part of our long-term economic plan.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing said the number of new housing starts was encouraging, but added that it was still fewer than half the number needed to accommodate a growing population.

Chief executive Grainia Long said: “Most importantly, quarterly starts remain at 26 per cent and completions at 39 per cent below their March 2007 peak, which shows we have an awful lot of ground to make up if we are to have any hope of tackling our national housing crisis."