Housing completions rise, but fall short of targets

New figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show an encouraging 16 per cent year-on-year rise in housing completions in 2017, but the numbers fall well short of the government’s target of 300,000 by the mid-2020s.

There were 163,250 new build completions in 2017, and 162,180 new build starts, a year-on-year increase of five per cent. However, the figure for new starts fell in the final quarter of 2017 by 1% versus the same period in the preceding year.

The statistics reveal relatively high rates of new build starts west of the London commuter belt and across the Midlands to East Anglia.

Local authority areas with particularly high new start rates include Northamptonshire, Essex and South Derbyshire while Croydon, Northamptonshire and Kent all recorded high completion rates.

During the year, houses made up 75% of all new build dwelling completions, the highest proportion since 2001-02, while the proportion of flats fell from around half in 2005-06 to just a quarter in 2016-17.

Kelly Boorman, head of construction at audit, tax and consulting firm RSM said, “While the numbers show an encouraging upward trend, we still haven’t returned to pre-crash levels. The current figures also underline how difficult it will be for the government to meet its target of 300,000 new homes annually by the mid-2020s.

“Despite government efforts to improve the planning process, some developers continue to be frustrated by what they perceive to be unnecessary delays and obstacles in obtaining planning permissions.

“At the recent Spring Statement, the Chancellor reiterated the government’s plan to invest £44 billion to raise housing supply and provided an update on recent developments. Specifically, he mentioned the 44 authorities who have bid into the £4.1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund and announced the deal with the West Midlands to commit to delivering 215,000 homes by 2030-31, facilitated by a £100 million grant from the Land Remediation Fund.

“He also hinted at further policy announcements at this year’s Budget to address the problem of the gap between planning permissions granted and housing completions. While we don’t yet know the details, construction firms should be keeping a close eye on developments.”

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