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New home starts at highest level in nearly 10 years

Houses housing newbuild
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According to new figures, the number of new homes started on site has reached the highest level since 2008 – but RIBA president Jane Duncan says more needs to be done to fix the UK’s housing crisis 

The latest data from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) , which recorded the number of new-build homes started and completed in England, shows that 164,960 new homes started on site in the year to June 2017. This is up 13 per cent on the same period the year before. 

This is the highest level of new-build homes to start on site since 2008, when the DCLG report acknowledges that these starts were ‘strongly affected by the economic downturn’.

This 164,960 figure is 41 per cent above the trough in the March quarter of 2009, but still 16 per cent below the 2007 March quarter peak.

The figures demonstrate strong growth in housebuilding across the country. Gloucestershire, South Derbyshire and South Norfolk were reported to be among the areas delivering the highest levels of starts. 

Also, from January to June 2017, more than 153,000 new homes were completed, showing an increase of 11 per cent compared with the same time last year. 

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma said building more homes was an ‘absolute priority’ for the government. He added: ‘Today’s figures are proof that we are getting Britain building again.’

’It’s vital we maintain this momentum to deliver more quality homes in the places that people want to live. Our Housing White Paper set out an ambitious package of long-term reforms to do just that.’ 

However, the figures show that, between April and June 2017, the number of new homes started on site by housing associations decreased by 19 per cent compared with the previous quarter. Completions, on the other hand, were 17 per cent higher.

RIBA president Jane Duncan said the housing statistics represent a ’mixed picture’.

’Clearly some progress is being made with housing starts up 10 per cent from the same quarter last year,’ she said. ’However this figure is still well below the Government’s target, and far below RIBA’s own estimation of us needing 300,000 new homes a year for the foreseeable future.’ 

’If the government is serious about fixing the UK’s chronic housing crisis it must build on measures announced in the Housing White Paper to support the development of good quality homes that will be sustainable for generations to come.’

Alex Ely, principal of Mae Architects, said: ‘Any increase in supply is welcome and it’s good to hear there is regional growth.’

But he added: ‘It would be surprising if this trend sustains though, given that construction prices are going up and there is evidence of uncertainty in the industry at early project stages.’

The DCLG statistics are based on building control inspection data, submitted to the department by local authorities, the National House Building Council and independent inspectors.

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