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Homebuilding heads in the right direction

Written by: Owain Thomas
The number of housing starts rose last year, but they're still way below the 2007 peak
Homebuilding heads in the right direction

There were 162,180 new build residential property starts in the year to December 2017 – up by 5% compared to 2016, according to official data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

It noted that 163,250 homes were completed during the year, up 16% on the previous 12 months.

Both the number of starts and completions will be encouraging, although the data highlights the difficulty the government faces in reaching its target of 300,000 new homes a year.

This was illustrated by a 1% decrease in the number of starts from October to December to 41,280 compared with the same three months in 2016.

Completions however were 17% higher than the final three months of 2016 at 42,860.

Well below peak

Overall, despite the government making housing one of its key strategies, starts and completions still remain well below their recent peak in 2007 where 183,600 homes were started and 176,650 completed.

Following the sharp fall after the credit crunch, new home starts have averaged around 158,230 for the past two years, with completions at 152,050.

Alongside the Spring Statement, Sir Oliver Letwin published an update to his build out review, noting that he was focusing on the role of the largest builders and the control they exerted on sites and within the market.

This week the government announced almost £300m of investment to help local authorities fulfil their housing plans in Oxfordshire, the West Midlands and West of England.

The private sector appears to be the most buoyant with new build dwelling starts in the December quarter 2017 up 8% from the previous quarter, and completions also up 7%.

Starts by housing associations were just two per cent higher compared to the last quarter with just one per cent more completions.

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