New build starts up 15 per cent, says DCLG

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In the year to March, annual new build dwelling starts were up 15 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to statistics from the Department for Community and Local Government.

On a quarterly seasonally-adjusted basis, new build dwelling starts in England were estimated at 43,170 in the latest quarter, a 3 per cent increase compared to the previous 3 months and 21 per cent increase on a year earlier, the DCLG says.

Completions were estimated at 39,520 (seasonally adjusted), 9 per cent higher than the previous quarter and 21 per cent higher than a year ago.

Annual new build dwelling starts totalled 162,880 in the year to March 2017.

During the same period, completions totalled 147,960, an increase of 6 per cent compared with last year.

Private enterprise new build dwelling starts were 4 per cent higher in the March quarter 2017 than the previous quarter, and completions were 12 per cent higher. Starts by housing associations were 2 per cent higher compared to the last quarter and completions 5 per cent lower.

All starts are now 152 per cent above the trough in the March quarter 2009 and 12 per cent below the March quarter 2007 peak. All completions are 57 per cent above the trough in the March quarter 2013 and 18 per cent below their March quarter 2007 peak.

Mortgage Advice Bureau new homes director Andy Frankish says: “As expected, whilst the house building in England report from DCLG released today paints a steady picture of the current house building sector with moderate growth of a 3 per cent increase in the last quarter in new build starts and a 15 per cent increase in starts year on year, together with an increase in completions of 9 per cent on the previous quarter and a 6 per cent rise in completions year on year, we are certainly still a long way away from the new build targets set by the last administration.

“Yes, the latest figures do indicate a marginal increase and, on reviewing figures over the previous few years we can see the signs of recovery starting in 2013, demonstrating the impact of the introduction of Help To Buy, which could suggest an element of cautious optimism that the industry has perhaps ‘turned the corner’ following the trough of 2009, but if we are to reach the 200,000+ new build homes needed each year in England, there is still more momentum required in the sector on what is seen by many as a slow road to recovery.

“The fact that we have had no commitment to the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme beyond 2021 is also likely to start impacting on developers’ decisions to purchase land past this point, and may even have an impact on new starts over the coming quarter, but we won’t feel the real impact of this for some months to come.

“This is likely to continue to be a hot topic and a key manifesto subject and cause for further debate in the next two weeks, with cross-party consensus on the need to tackle the housing crisis as we approach the 8 June Election date.”