The number of new homes registered in April with the National House Building Council (NHBC) increased by 39 per cent compared to the same period last year
In April 11,484 new UK residential units were registered with the organisation - compared to 8,238 in April 2012.
Year to date figures are so far 26 per cent above the total for January to April 2012 (43,223 in 2013 compared to 34,236 in 2012).
NHBC commercial director Richard Tamayo said: ‘April’s registration figures, combined with early indications of increased activity in May, build upon the solid volume growth seen in Q1 2013.
‘Similar to previous registration figures this year, the upturn can be attributed in part to the Government’s £2.2bn Affordable Homes Programme which according to Housing Minister Mark Prisk is on track to deliver the target of 170,000 new homes by 2015.
‘We still need to remember, however, in the context of overall new home volumes, that the figures remain significantly below registration levels prior to the economic downturn and the levels the UK urgently requires to meet the needs of its demographic.’
However John Assael of Assael Architecture said: ‘We are still building less homes than at any time since 1924, so the increase is marginal and still very disappointing.’
He added: ‘There are huge regional disparities; it is the case that in parts of London new apartment buildings are getting built, but more as a haven for foreign investors than providing homes for British people to buy. It’s a mess and the government’s policies though well intentioned are subverted by the current planning system and the lack of mortgage finance.’
Mark Farmer, head of residential at EC Harris said: ‘I haven’t seen any “step change” in new development activity, more of a gradual increased feeling of optimism amongst developers. Outside of the prime central London market, many developers feel that they could now benefit from stronger purchaser demand driven by current government initiatives such as Help to Buy.’
He added: ‘The figures are also slightly distorted as a 39 per cent uplift is relative to a very poor year in 2012 for new house building activity compared to historical norms. It should also be remembered that a NHBC new homes registration is made before start on site (no guarantee of always starts being made immediately after or at all in some instances); this is not a ‘units completed and handed over’ measure. It therefore is more significant in measuring developer sentiment rather than actual physical development activity. The segments of the market most active at the moment are the balance sheet financed house builders and developers and registered providers self-developing or joint venturing with house builders.
The statistics show a strong pick up in registrations in Greater London which is probably reflective of the continued divide between London’s housing market and the wider UK market. Despite government initiatives, house-builders and developers are still very wary of committing to development without the confidence that they will sell out of their schemes. London still benefits from good levels of employment and income as well as seeing, in some cases, foreign investor interest spilling into the Greater London Boroughs. The GLA’s affordable housing programme driven by the mayor is also without doubt contributing to the London centric uplift with a doubling of affordable housing starts in the last year compared to the previous year.’
Peter Morris of Peter Morris Architects said: ‘Over the past three months we have seen a significant increase in enquiries for new build houses. This could be a result of the governments policies or a realisation that new builds can be more profitable. Whatever the reason there is definitely more confidence out there.’