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Biggest jump in house numbers since financial crash: DCLG

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UK residential housing stock rose by 15 per cent this year, largely due to more new build properties, the Department for Communities and Local Government says.

In total there were 217,350 ‘net additional dwellings’ in 2016-17. This is the fourth consecutive year that the housing supply has increased in the UK.

It is also the first time the number of new homes has topped 200,000 since 2007-08, the start of the financial crisis.

The figures show that 84 per cent of this additional housing was down to new build properties. In total there were 183,570 new dwellings built over the year.

In addition, there were 37,190 additional dwellings created from converting commercial or office buildings into residential property.

A further 5,680 dwelling were added as a result of converting houses into flats. At the margins, there was 720 other gains, typically house boats, caravans etc.

While these all added to the total housing stock in the UK, there were also almost 10,000 demolitions to take into account.

‘Net additional dwellings’ is the primary and most comprehensive measure of housing supply. The figures are based on local authority estimates of gains and losses of housing in their area during the year.

The DCLG noted that almost 20,000 of these net gains had come from a change of use of granted through ‘permitted development rights’ – in other words full planning permission was not required.

This include 17,751 dwellings that were converted from offices, 330 from agricultural or forestry buildings, 106 from storage buildings and 700 from other non-domestic buildings.

Thistle Finance, a specialist development finance broker, said it was “encouraging” to see permitted development rights starting to have more of an impact, especially in the office-to-resi- sector.

Thistle Finance director Nathan Ellis-Calcott says: “We’re almost certainly not building enough homes, but we are at least building more homes that we were a year ago.

“With the shortage of land available to develop, recycling vacant office space into residential homes will be crucial in helping to solve the housing crisis.”

Ellis-Calcott added that one of the main reasons for the growth in new homes has been the improved availability of finance for developers.

“There has been an influx of new lenders and challenger banks into the development sector over the past two to three years. This has brought rates down and offered greater choice to developers, both large and small.”

Legal & General Mortgage Club’s new build manager Craig Hall says these figures are “a step in the right direction” but fell short of the 250,000 new homes that the industry was trying to deliver each year to keep up with demand.

He adds: “With the Autumn Budget just under a week away, housing is set to be a key focus. We hope the government will introduce a variety of reforms to boost housing, including more funding for the supply side and an injection of urgency into the planning system.”

The DCLG figures show a nationwide picture of where these additional dwellings are concentrated.

Areas that have seen some of the biggest net gains to their housing supply include Cornwall, parts of Devon and Gloucester.

There were also substantial gains in many areas surrounding the green belt of London – including Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Looking at individual areas, Tower Hamlets, the Vale of White Horse and Dartford have the top three net additional rates, per 1000 dwellings in the country.

Other notable areas with high net additions (relative to existing housing stock) include Cambridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, Salford and Greenwich.

Areas with some of the lowest levels of net additions, per 1000 dwellings include Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness and the Wirral.

In total 198 of or 326 local authorities in England saw an increase in to number of residential dwellings.

In London, 23 out of 33 boroughs saw a net increase to their number of dwellings.

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