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Office-to-resi conversions boost new housing figures

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New rules extending permitted development rights to converted properties are boosting the government’s attempts to create a million new homes by 2020, new figures show

Statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show a 10 per cent rise in net additions to the housing stock during 2015-16 to 189,650. New build completions were up 5.7 per cent to 163,940, with homes created through a change of use up almost 50 per cent from 20,650 to 30,600.

Of those relying on change of use rules, 13,879 homes were delivered under the relaxed permitted development policy, with the vast majority (12,824) coming from office to residential conversions.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: ‘These figures provide the best evidence to date as to how much housebuilders have ramped up housing supply. The government’s ambitious target to build one million homes over the course of this parliament is now within reach.’

The net additions figures take account of demolitions – which remained steady last year at about 10,000.

The government extended permitted development rights for conversions to residential from some commercial uses in 2013 on a temporary basis. It made the changes permanent in April this year.

This is the first year the DCLG has collected figures on homes delivered under the new regime. Overall, the 10 per cent rate of growth in net housing additions slowed from the previous year’s bumper rise of 25 per cent.

The total is still below the recent peak of 223,530 achieved in 2007-08 but is well above the low point reached in 2012-13 of 124,720.

The DCLG data show that the rate of growth in student accommodation slowed last year, with 3,040 new council tax valuation listings in the category, down from 4,530 last year.

Baseley also credited other government initiatives for the 5.7 per cent rise in new build homes last year. He said: ‘In response to the positive measures introduced by government in recent years such as Help to Buy, huge increases in output have been delivered.

‘Provided government continues to create an environment within which the industry can operate and grow, housebuilders will continue to increase delivery of new homes.’

Last year the then housing minister, Brandon Lewis, said the government hoped to deliver a million homes by the end of this parliament, an equivalent rate of 200,000 homes a year. 


RIBA President Jane Duncan

’I welcome this Government’s ongoing commitment to build much needed new homes across the country. However, I also note that only 163,940 homes in the last year were actually new-build. The figures cited by the Government are boosted by 12,824 homes created from office space and 4,760 conversions (sub-divided homes).

’I’m concerned office-to-residential conversion is occurring without proper oversight by local authorities’

’I remain concerned that office-to-residential conversion is occurring without proper oversight by local authorities, and that as a result homes are being delivered at a standard which would otherwise be deemed totally unacceptable.

’We need a long-term solution to our housing crisis, to deliver the sustainable, quality homes which people actually want to live in. This can only be achieved through a range of measures, from diversifying supply through the promotion of custom build, to providing necessary public investment for the rented sector, to ensuring local authorities take account of social value when they dispose of public land for development.’


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