More New Homes Being Built - But is it Enough?
While it is true that we still have a chronic shortage of housing in this country, there is some good news on the horizon, according to the latest figures from the NHBC. They have reported strong growth in registration by house builders to construct new homes over the past three months – an increase which is being led by the UK’s private construction sector.
In the three months to the end of May, nearly 44,000 new homes were started, an increase of 15 per cent on the same period last year. Three-quarters of these are being built by private firms (with the other quarter accounted for by housing associations and councils), and the rate of growth in this sector is actually 17 per cent compared with the same period in 2014.
The news locally is even better: in the east of England, the rate of growth is very nearly 30 per cent. At last it would seem that the message that we need more new homes is being translated into action – but is it enough?
Extrapolate the latest quarterly figures across a full year, and the UK would be delivering around 175,000 new homes in 2015. Although this is ahead of the numbers which have been built in recent years, it is still far short of the 250,000 new homes every year which it is generally agreed are needed.
Our own experience backs this up. We are building new homes at a record rate, and they are finding buyers readily. Many people are buying ‘off-plan’ to ensure they get the plot they want; unlike two or three years ago, it is now rare for us to finish a new home without it having a buyer.
This view seems to be backed up by estate agents, many of whom are reporting a shortage of stock and a big mismatch between the number of potential buyers and the number of homes they actually have to sell. It would appear that demand is still running well ahead of supply.
Whilst those who already have a home might want to pull up the drawbridge and say ‘no more new homes’, the fact is that we desperately need a decent supply of homes to enable local people to live and work in their own communities, at least in a way which is affordable.
If campaigners accepted this fact and focussed their efforts in trying to make sure that new developments were appropriate – rather than simply saying no to every proposal – they would be doing their local communities a much bigger favour.
After all, every house was a new home at one point. And if we are to ensure that everyone has access to somewhere decent to live, the pipeline of new homes must continue to grow.