Seven-year high for housing starts

26 February 2016

Housing starts and completions have hit a seven-year high according to the latest Government figures.

More than 143,500 new build homes started last year, up 23% on the same quarter a year earlier and up 91% when compared to the low point of the year up to June 2009 according to The House building: December quarter 2015.

The figures also showed that the number of new homes completed were up 21% over last year and planning permissions were up 12% on same quarter last year.

“Aspiring homeowners should get the help they need to turn their dream into a reality – key to that is building the homes our country needs,” said communities secretary Greg Clark.

“Today’s figures show how our reforms to the planning system are delivering the permissions needed and schemes like Help to Buy have given builders the confidence to invest and build, with starts and completions now at their highest since 2008.
“But we’re determined to do even more, and fulfil our ambition to deliver 1 million new homes by 2020-21.”

Housing minister Brandon Lewis added: “We’ve got the country building again with starts nearly double the low point of 2009 and along with completions hitting a seven-year high.

“However we’re not complacent. That’s why we’ve set out the most ambitious housing vision for more than a generation, doubling the housing budget so we can meet our ambition of delivering a million new homes.”

The number of new build-homes completed by private housebuilders has risen 20% on the previous year, while those completed by housing associations are up 27% over the same period.

The figures also showed strong that Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire have experienced high levels of starts along with areas in North Oxfordshire and the Thames estuary.

“Our planning reforms are helping to get spades in the ground with a quarter of a million planning permissions granted up to September last year – higher than the pre-recession peak in 2007,” said Lewis. “And we want to go even further. That is why just last week we set out ambitious proposals that will speed up the planning process, including offering dedicated fast-track application services.”

While the increase in housing starts and completions is encouraging there is still a long way to go warns Chartered Institute of Housing head of policy Melanie Rees.

“The cost of housing means that millions of people are struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford, so it’s very encouraging to see a 21% increase in the number of homes built in the year to December 2015.

“But we still have a long way to go. We have failed to build the number of homes we need for decades, and today’s figures show that 142,890 homes were built in 2015 – a long way short of the 250,000 experts estimate we need to keep up with our growing population and start tackling the shortfall that has built up over the years. Rough sleeping numbers also out today have revealed that the number of people rough sleeping in England has jumped by 30 per cent – the consequences of our failure to build enough homes hit the most vulnerable hardest.

“The government is taking steps to boost house building, but most of its investment is focused on home ownership. An increase in numbers is not enough – we need to make sure we are providing new homes for people on all incomes, including those who can’t afford to buy. That means building new homes for shared ownership, for private rent and for rents that are genuinely affordable too.”