New figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government have revealed how, over the past eight years, the industry switched from building flats to houses
In 2008/9, at the height of the financial crash, flats made up half of all the 157,630 new homes built that year. By last year (2015/16) that proportion had fallen to a just over a quarter (26 per cent), with houses making up 74 per cent of the total of new homes constructed (163,940).
The number of houses built increased from 78,815 in 2008/9 to 121,316 in 2015/16, while the number of flats built decreased from 78,815 to 42,624.
Meanwhile, other housebuilding statistics published this week by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and Glenigan show that planning permissions for new homes continued to grow in the last quarter for which figures are available.
Their Q3 2016 New Housing Pipeline report records that permissions for 76,242 homes were granted in England between July and September last year, and the total number of permissions for the 12 months to September reached 289,011, the highest since the survey began in 2006.
However, the number of distinct sites these permissions were on dropped, showing that local authorities were approving an increasing number of large strategic sites, as opposed to a mix of sizes and types.
In a separate report, Goodness Spacious Me, the HBF recorded that the average size of new build homes had increased by nearly 15 per cent from an estimated 801sqft (74.4m²) in 2008/9 to 918sqft (85.3m²) in 2015/6.
It also said the shift in emphasis from flats to houses generated additional bedrooms – estimated at 478,000 in 2015/16, compared with 385,000 in 2008/9, an increase of 24.2 per cent.
RIBA President Jane Duncan said: ’It is clear that much more needs to be done to tackle the housing crisis and ensure delivery of quality as well as quantity in the UK’s housing stock.
’Dissatisfaction with the size of bedrooms for example is one of the most consistent complaints from new homebuyers – so while extra bedrooms are a good thing it is important that they, and key living rooms are of a size that people want and need.’
The federation said the change in home types reflected a shift in government policy, from a focus on high-density urban developments on brownfield sites in the early 2000s, to the introduction of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which encouraged developers to ramp up investment in house building.
Mews Houses Paul Riddle
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: ‘The report illustrates the huge increase we have seen in house building since the devastating economic crash of 2008/09, but this is more than just a numbers game. We have an acute housing crisis that can only be solved by building more of the right homes in the right places.
‘Government policy has allowed the industry to focus on responding to the needs of buyers in this regard and, as a result, the industry has delivered huge increases in supply over the last three years.The industry is planning to deliver further increases in output. By addressing the entrenched problems with planning and developing further positive policies to promote development, the Government can help maintain this momentum.’