Belfast Telegraph

11% rise in number of new homes, figures show

The number of new homes recorded in England is at its highest level since the financial crash, according to Government figures.

Analysis found a net housing increase of 189,650 in 2015/16, a rise of 11% on the previous financial year.

Ministers said there had been an additional 893,000 homes since 2010 and hailed the report as proof the Government had "turbo-charged" housebuilding.

But Labour dismissed the figures as "disappointing" and said Tory targets for an extra million homes in England by 2020 would be missed.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: "These are yet more disappointing housebuilding figures. The number of new homes being built is still far lower than under Labour, seven years on from the depths of the global financial crisis.

"We are now well on our way to a lost decade of low housebuilding under the Conservatives.

"On the most recent figures, the Government are set to miss even their own housebuilding target by a big margin. We won't hit a million homes built until 2025.

"These problems are of the Government's own making. Huge cuts to housing investment and piecemeal planning changes have put a brake on new housing development including desperately needed affordable homes to rent and buy."

Some 163,940 of the total extra dwellings were new-build homes, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government report.

It found.30,600 were conversions from non-domestic buildings, 4,760 were houses that had been turned into flats and 780 were less conventional dwellings, such as caravans and houseboats, while 10,420 demolitions were reported.

Daniel Bentley, editorial director of the think-tank Civitas, said: "The Government is not yet on course to hit its one million homes ambition, but it is very close and it is not unrealistic to think that it could still be achieved by 2020.

"But it is important to remember that one million homes, an average of 200,000 a year, is an arbitrary political target which bears no resemblance to the actual level of housing need in England.

"The Government's own household formation projections suggest a need for more than 230,000 homes a year for the rest of this decade and, if we are to bear down on house price growth, we probably need in the region of 300,000 homes a year.

"It is to be hoped that, in drawing up the forthcoming housing white paper, ministers start from a realistic analysis of the scale of the challenge. It is quite clear that minor tinkering will not fix this - a significant step-change in approach is essential."

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: "These figures provide the best evidence to date as to how much house builders have ramped up housing supply. The Government's ambitious target to build one million homes over the course of this parliament is now within reach.

"In response to the positive measures introduced by Government in recent years, such as Help to Buy, huge increases in output have been delivered. Providing Government continues to create an environment within which the industry can operate and grow, house builders will continue to increase delivery of new homes."

Housing minister Gavin Barwell said: "We promised to turbo-charge house building so more people can have the security of their own home, and that is exactly what we are doing with the biggest increase in the number of new homes in many years.

"We know there is more to do to ensure the housing market works for everyone and not just the privileged few and we will be setting our further details in our housing white paper shortly."