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Frances Traynor's picture

England's housebuilding at highest level in a decade

Fri, 26 May 2017



This article refers to a recent Home Buyers Survey.

New figures show that housebuilding in England is at its highest level in 10 years. However, the number being constructed is still not enough to reach the current government target of 1 million new homes by 2020.

The figures, released by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), revealed that in 2016-17 the construction of 162,880 homes started in England with a further 147,960 homes completed, the highest since the financial crisis a decade ago.

However, demand for property continues to far outstrip supply with housing charity Shelter estimating at least 250,000 homes a year are required in England alone.

Meanwhile, a poll of 30 specialists carried out by BNP Paribas Real Estate UK for Reuters found the majority want planning regulations loosened to encourage more house building both to increase supply and make homes more affordable, particularly to first-time buyers.

Tackling capacity in the housing market is key

Anthony Lee, joint head of residential consulting at BNP Paribas Real Estate UK, said: "What governments have failed to do is to tackle capacity in the housebuilding industry and the planning sector. This is a critical issue that is impacting on the ability of developers to deliver more housing to meet pressing demand."

The Reuters report noted that housebuilding giant Barratt has decided to build fewer properties in London next year after a decrease of 20 percent in the current year. Along with the continuing influx of foreign investors into the capital and a flourishing buy-to-let market, the lack of supply has continued to push house prices up beyond the reach of average earners.

House price affordability an issue

The Reuters poll found that a majority of the 30 housing specialists questioned said house prices will continue to rise with no possibility of a slide in costs within the next two years. The experts were also asked to rank house price affordability for the UK on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 the most expensive – London ranked at nine with the UK nationally at seven.

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