New home registrations up 42% to nearly 5,000 IN Northern Ireland ... but 'double that needed'
Work began on an additional 1,400 homes in Northern Ireland last year as the number of new dwelling registrations soared to nearly 5,000, according to a report today.
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The statistics from the National House Building Council (NHBC) show that the number of new homes registered here went from 3,391 in 2017 to 4,804 - an increase of 42%.
But another industry body said we would need more than 9,000 new homes a year to meet demand, and that problems such as a lack of capacity at water treatment works were holding up housebuilding.
Last year NI Water warned that its plants in locations including Saintfield, Co Down, could not withstand the pressure of more new homes.
According to the NHBC figures, we bucked the UK-wide trend, where 159,617 new homes had been registered in 2018, down 0.5%.
Growth in new home registrations here was double that in the next strongest region, which was Yorkshire and Humberside, with growth of 20%.
Padraig Venny of NHBC said: "2018 was a very positive year for the industry in NI and the Isle of Man with registrations up by 39% compared to 2017.
"House prices have grown at the highest rate in the UK at approximately 6% showing that there is a real confidence within the sector and those people looking to buy a new, quality home.
"Belfast and the surrounding commuter belt continues to be an in-demand region and we have also seen an upturn in housing association activity over the course of the year."
John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation, said: "The substantial rise in new home registrations in 2018 that these figures show is a welcome reflection on a housebuilding industry which has now seen several years of sustained growth.
"This growth has undoubtedly helped many get onto the housing ladder but it must be set against the context of NI needing to build north of 9,000 units a year to meet our identified housing need.
"Blockages within the system to seeing these kinds of delivery levels must therefore be dealt with.
"And this is why, as we have previously highlighted, the capacity issues at wastewater treatment works across Northern Ireland must be dealt with before development grinds to a wholly unnecessary and avoidable halt."
Conor Mulligan, managing director of housebuilder Lagan Homes, said that based on population growth, we would need between 10,000 and 12,000 new homes a year. He added: "The industry has seen an increase in sales demand. Lagan Homes has just had a record number of sales in January receiving three times our monthly average and this appears to be continuing into February. Based on that we will be, where possible, increasing our output."
The minimum number of new homes needed each year, according to the Construction Employers Federation