Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland sees sharpest rise in building of new houses in UK

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland had the highest percentage increase in new home starts of any UK region during 2015, according to fresh figures.

There was a 30% increase in registered new homes, from 2,487 to 3,223 last year, the National House Building Council said today.

That outpaced other UK regions, with the east of England having the next highest percentage increase, at 23%.

One Northern Ireland-based housebuilder said 2015 had seen the biggest number of developments come up for tender since the housing crash.

But the NHBC claimed Northern Ireland's increase came "from a relatively low base" because house-building slumped so drastically in the downturn.

Peter Gillan, managing director of Co Antrim housebuilder PG Contracts, said the company had seen a "great turnaround" in both large developments and one-off houses.

"Percentage margins on the larger developments remain tight, but a mass volume is there to be had," he added.

"We have seen the largest ever number of developments available for tender since the crash."

But Conor Mulligan, managing director of Lagan Homes, said Northern Ireland faced barriers to house-building that were not present in England.

Those drags on progress included "sewer bonds, gold-plating of EU regulations and demands to upgrade underfunded infrastructure and services".

"Thankfully, there appears to be a recognition of difficulties and, I believe, the desire to overcome them," Mr Mulligan added.

David Little, NHBC representative in Northern Ireland, said volumes last year were double those in 2012.

"In general, builders are now more confident about prospects for house-building and this optimism is shared by potential buyers," he insisted.

But he warned that the momentum needed to be maintained and said: "We are still some way off building the numbers of new homes required."

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the house-building recovery "still has a very long way to go", though the pick-up was welcome news.

"Even if the industry operates at maximum capacity, the rate at which new homes are built will remain well below what is required for the foreseeable future," he indicated.

UK-wide, the number of new homes registered reached 156,000, up 7% on 2014.


Increase in number of homes built in NI in 2015


Total number of homes built in NI during period


Rise in UK-wide average of number of homes built


Number of new homes built in UK during 12 months


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