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Brexit unease among reasons registrations for new homes fell 7% in Northern Ireland

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Uncertainty: Conor Mulligan

Uncertainty: Conor Mulligan

Uncertainty: Conor Mulligan

Uncertainty over Brexit was a factor in the number of new homes registered to be built in Northern Ireland dropping by 7% last year, it has been claimed.

NHBC's annual new homes statistics showed that 4,743 new homes were registered to be built in 2018 but this fell to 4,397 in 2019.

NHBC is a warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK.

Conor Mulligan, director of Lagan Homes, said in the second half of last year there was "considerable uncertainty in the market over the possible outcome of Brexit and the turmoil that a possible 'no-deal' could have on the Northern Ireland economy".

"Thankfully the deal finally agreed upon, whilst imperfect, has eased a lot of those concerns and most developers are now seeing a significant jump in demand," he added.

"We are also facing a continual lack of zoned land with councils seemingly very reluctant to zone adequate new land in the forthcoming local area plans. Northern Ireland has less than 400 occupied houses for every 1,000 people.

"This compares very poorly with Scotland which has over 450 occupied houses for every 1,000 of its residents. Northern Ireland has a very similar demographic spread to Scotland, but our population is actually forecast to grow much faster than Scotland.

"However, it is Scotland who is planning to build more houses pro-rata than Northern Ireland and we are set to fall further behind. This will have a significant impact on both rents and house prices. We are really failing the next generation.

"A number of current developments, whilst obtaining planning approval, were unable to gain connection to the sewerage infrastructure due to long term under investment.

"This has and will continue to curtail the supply of new housing in certain areas until steps are taking to allow NI Water to borrow and properly invest in upgrading their infrastructure."

Padraig Venney, NHBC regional director for Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, said that despite the drop the housing sector had "proved to be resilient during 2019, despite the political uncertainties caused by Brexit".

"After three years without a local assembly we now have a local government sitting in Stormont, which is welcome news for all the people of Northern Ireland," he added.

"Housing has already been mentioned as a key issue for all local parties, with a renewed focus on delivering more genuinely affordable homes."

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