Over 170,000 new homes were built for the year ending June 2019, taking the number to an 11 year high, the latest official figures show.
The newly published data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) shows that a total of 173,660 new homes were built during the 12 month period, an 8% increase from the previous year.
‘The data is hugely welcome, with the number of new homes built reaching an 11 year high. We are moving in the right direction, but there is still much more to do if we are going to deliver the numbers needed by communities up and down the country,’ said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
‘I’m determined to deliver homes that are high-quality, well designed and good for the planet. Faster and simpler planning regulations will help us reach that goal, which is why I have announced measures to accelerate planning decisions for homes and reduce the use of unnecessary conditions by up to a third, freeing up developers so they can get on and build in a locally appropriate way,’ he added.
The data also shows that the last year also saw the proportion of family houses built increase to 78% of all the new dwellings delivered in the marketplace, the highest the figure has been since 2000.
Ministers have this week announced new measures as part of the accelerated planning green paper which will quicken the pace of decision making and get shovels in the ground faster.
New permitted development rights, including allowing the demolition and rebuild of old commercial buildings, as well as requiring councils to meet timescales or refund planning application fees are aimed at getting homes built faster.
Jenrick pointed out that the new data release points to positive news ahead of the publication of comprehensive housing delivery statistics in November. Last year 220,000 new homes were delivered by the English housing market, the highest in all but one of the last 31 years.
But the industry is not convinced that this is enough. ‘On the surface, these latest numbers are extremely encouraging and it is no mean feat given current political headwinds and economic uncertainty,’ said Michael Stone, chief executive officer of specialist new home estate agent Stone Real Estate.
‘In particular, affordable homes have seen a big spike in completions and this has to be warmly welcomed given that this is where the biggest deficit in housing provision lies but the numbers point to a reduction in dwellings started of 2% quarterly and 8% year on year. This is no seasonal blip and our house-builder friends and local authorities alike will need to work hard to dig-down, literally, in order to ensure that the positive trend in housing supply continues to come close to meeting demand,’ he added.
According to Jamie Johnson, chief executive officer of FJP Investment, the figures are well short of what is needed. ‘Indeed, it is approximately half the number that’s needed if we are to address the housing crisis,’ he said.
‘Not only do we need more homes to be constructed, but we also need to focus on the quality and attractiveness of new builds. FJP Investment’s new research found that 63% of UK homebuyers are put off new-builds because they consider them to lack character, so both the government and property developers must make sure they consider how to build new homes that are desirable to potential buyers,’ he added.
The level of new building is too slow, says Paresh Raja, chief executive officer of Market Financial Solutions, and he pointed out that according to data from the Land Registry, on average new builds costs 29% more than existing properties.
‘If we are looking to solve the housing crisis by building more homes, then we must ensure new-builds are more affordable. But that’s not all. I strongly believe the government must become more creative in its attempt to improve housing supply. We must find ways to convert or renovate derelict properties, such as run down houses and empty commercial premises, to get them back onto the market, while also looking at ways to convert and build on existing properties,’ he added.
Jerald Solis, director of Experience Invest, would like to see the Government working closer with construction companies and developers to ensure they are getting the support they need to build new homes in places where they are needed the most.
‘This means looking beyond the capital to places like Cardiff, Luton, Liverpool and Newcastle, places set to experience significant population growth over the coming years, and where demand is set to rise,’ he said.