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New homes hit seven-year high but building still at ‘snail’s pace’

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  • 25/02/2016
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Completions on new-build homes rocketed to pre-crisis figures during 2015, official government figures show.

However, difficulties in securing planning applications is causing growth in new build homes to move at ‘a snail’s pace’.

More than 143,500 new build homes were started during 2015, up 6% compared to a year earlier and 91% higher when compared with the low point in the year to June 2009. Completions were also up 21% compared to a year earlier to reach 142,890.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, added that London needed to urgently tackle the housing crisis to meet the needs of young people struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder.

“Any snail-speed improvement won’t be enough to shift along the UK economy, or make a serious difference for young people scouring the market for a home,” he said.

“London is the rest of England on fast forward, the razor edge in so many ways – but also a warning. The capital needs some urgency in tackling the housing crisis.

Bridges blamed poor planning rules for the severe shortage of housing in the capital.

“It’s far too difficult to get planning approval for new homes in London – the capital’s running at a 22% housing deficit from 2015  even before the difficulties of actually building anything. This year’s mayoral candidates need to wake up and smell the house prices. Taking on the capital’s planning departments may be a daunting task, but it’s definitely a necessary one. London could show the rest of the country the solution as well as the dangers on the housing horizon.”

The figures also showed that the number of new build homes completed by private housebuilders has risen 20% on the previous year, while those completed by housing associations are up 27% over the same period.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: “We’ve got the country building again with starts nearly double the low point of 2009 and along with completions hitting a 7-year high.

“However we’re not complacent. That’s why we’ve set out the most ambitious housing vision for more than a generation, doubling the housing budget so we can meet our ambition of delivering a million new homes.”

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