New build housing completions have hit a 10-year high – but the pace of growth has slowed dramatically
New government data shows that 195,290 new build homes were finished in the 12 months to 31 March 2018. This was up from 183,570 the prior year and the highest number since 2007-8.
But, while the volume of completions grew by 12 per cent in 2016-17, it increased by just 6 per cent last year.
With a drop in conversions and changes of use to residential, the overall number of net dwellings in 2017-18 was 222,190. This was up only slightly from the 217,350 increase in housing stock the prievious year.
Blane Perrotton, managing director of surveyors Naismiths, said: ‘Ever since the Brexit referendum sent an icy chill down the spine of UK construction, Britain’s housebuilders have prided themselves on keeping the home fires burning.
‘The confirmation that more homes were completed in 2017-18 than at any point in the preceding decade is rightly a badge of honour for a sector that has raised its game in response to huge demand.
‘But, look more closely and the halo could be slipping. The speed of growth has slowed to a crawl. You don’t need to follow every tortuous twist and resignation of the Brexit saga to identify the culprit for the slowdown. Fragile demand and a lack of developer confidence since the 2016 vote have both slammed on the brakes, even here in the engine room of the construction industry.’
Fragile demand and a lack of developer confidence since the referendum have slammed on the brakes
Chartered Institute of Housing head of policy Melanie Rees said: ‘While it’s encouraging to see another increase in the number of new homes, the reality is we are still a long way short of where we need to be. Millions of people are struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford – we know we need more than 300,000 new homes a year to address the current chronic shortage and meet future demand.’
Joseph Daniels, founder of modular smart homes developer Project Etopia, said: ‘The country faces a race against time to get housebuilding up to speed but the needle has barely moved in the last year, rising from a walk to a gentle jog.
‘Young people and families desperately want to get on the housing ladder but are hamstrung by weak supply of new homes.’
Figures out earlier this week showed a seasonally adjusted £14 billion-worth of work was carried out by the construction industry in September 2018 – the most since monthly records began in January 2010. Almost £5 billion of this was new residential work, with private housebuilding up 10 per cent from the same month a year earlier, and public sector housebuilding growing by 11 per cent over the same period.
Ministers this summer pledged almost £2 billion of support to unlock sites for new homes. The government said it was committed to building more and better homes faster.