New Build Starts and Completions Plateau In Opening Quarter

New build housing, completed and started in the opening quarter of 2019, has decreased marginally.

The figures, released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, at the beginning of July cast a shadow of doubt over the Government’s ability to fulfil its promise of building 300,000 new homes per year by 2025.

New build residential dwellings starting construction in the opening quarter of 2019 reached 36,630 in England. This marks a 9% decrease on the new build construction started during the final quarter of 2018.

Additionally, the 162,270 new build dwelling starts in the year to March is only a 1% increase on the figures from a year earlier.

New build completions followed a similar trend as home buyers delayed their purchase until Brexit became a little clearer. The 42,870 completions represented a 1% decrease on the previous quarter statistics.

However, over the course of the year up to March 2019, the 169,770 completions were an increase of 6% on 2018’s figures to March.

Clive Docwra, Managing Director of leading construction consulting and design agency McBains, said:

“The Government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s, but today’s figures show that this will remain a pipe dream unless measures are implemented to help boost the number of new build starts and completions.

“These figures bear out that construction firms are suffering from uncertainties over Brexit – investors are wary of committing to new projects while the outcome remains unclear, while skills shortages, which are already acute, will bite further unless the industry is able to recruit skilled workers from overseas.

“The high cost of materials is also impacting on the amount companies can build, and access to finance is often difficult to come by.

“Even though the annual figures show an increase in starts and completions of new homes, these are nowhere near enough to meet the demand for housing. Independent estimates suggest that more than 300,000 new homes need to be build each year until 2031, so today’s figures prove that the housing crisis is still miles away from being solved.”

Joseph Daniels, Founder of modular developer Project Etopia, commented:

“House building has swung into reverse yet again, and it is a further sign that the industry is not consistent enough in its delivery of new homes. A slump in the pipeline of new homes is now programmed in for later this year.

“For all the talk about the government setting ambitious housing targets, there is still a lack of urgency when it comes to walking the walk, and this has meant starts on new homes are down 9% on both the previous quarter and the same time last year.

“The rate of progress means Government targets remain only a pipe dream, and the people it hurts are the ones desperate to get onto the housing ladder, who are locked out by high prices because the supply is simply not there.

“Housing is in a state of crisis, yet the response has not reflected how high a priority house-building needs to be in the UK.

“Only by turning to modern methods of construction which are much faster than traditional building can we hope to deliver the housing the country desperately needs.”

Are the Government’s dreams of 300,000 homes per year a pipe dream? How will this property shortage impact conveyancers?

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