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New build starts improve but still trail 1970s

by: Chris Menon
  • 24/08/2017
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New build starts improve but still trail 1970s
The latest housebuilding data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for England shows 164,960 new homes were started in the year to June 2017, up 13% on the previous year.

During the same period, completions totalled 153,330, an increase of 11 per cent compared with last year.

However, on a quarterly basis, new build starts were estimated at 41,180 (seasonally adjusted) in the latest quarter, a 3 per cent decrease compared to the previous 3 months, although this was a 10 per cent increase on a year earlier. Completions were estimated at 40,310 (seasonally adjusted), 2 per cent higher than the previous quarter and 15 per cent higher than a year ago.

All starts are now 141 per cent above the trough in the March quarter 2009 and 16 per cent below the March quarter 2007 peak. All completions are 60 per cent above the trough in the March quarter 2013 and 17 per cent below their March quarter 2007 peak.

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma said: “Building more homes is an absolute priority for this government. Today’s figures are proof that we are getting Britain building again, with new housing starts reaching record levels since 2009.”


Historic highs

While an improvement over the depths of the house building slump in 2009, these figures compare poorly with the 300,520 new building starts and 272,520 completions in 1972-73.

Murray Smith, managing director of SiteSales Property Group, a residential property sales and development consultancy in London and the South East, commented: “The statistics reflect what we knew, in that completion on projects commenced pre-Brexit would be healthy, while the post-vote hiatus in the industry and an uncertain market has withheld starts in recent quarters.

“Private activity sees no real change or surprises, it is in the housing association sector (with 19% fewer starts) where concern should lie as it reflects continuing caution. On the face of it, this may look like caution per se but in fact it is caution with a combination of planning inertia and construction cost uncertainty.

“Market activity this autumn will answer a lot of questions and, in turn, impact decisions with regard to the market’s future growth potential.”

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