House-building recovery continues but constraints remain says HBF

Government figures have revealed the highest number of housing starts achieved in a quarter since 2007

During Q1 2015, 40,340 new homes were started in England, a 31% increase on the previous quarter and an 11% improvement on the same quarter a year ago. The figure is also a 41% rise on 2013 prior to the launch of the Help to Buy equity loan.

Meanwhile, 34,210 homes were completed in Q1 2015, the highest figure recorded since Q4 2008, 10% up on the last quarter and a 21% increase on Q1 2014.

The Home Builders Federation said that the momentum seen in 2014 was gathering pace. Last year, 137,310 new homes were started, up 10% on 2013 and 60% above the “trough” in 2009.

But the HBF warned that despite the growth in housing output the industry had a long way to go to deliver the 230,000 homes a year needed in England. It urged the new government to support the increases of recent quarters by prioritising policies, a crucial one being the formal confirmation of the extension to the Help to Buy equity loan to 2020.

HBF also called upon the government to address delays in the planning system so that planning permissions could be processed more quickly, allowing housebuilders to get onsite sooner. It urged local authorities to speed up local plans and strongly recommended that the government gave “early attention” to its brownfield policies.

John Stewart, HBF’s director of economic affairs, said: “These figures are yet another sign that the housebuilding industry is responding to more positive market conditions, along with the added boost from Help to Buy equity loan, to raise housing supply.”

“Significant constraints remain, and if the government is to deliver on its manifesto commitment to further increase build rates we now need to see more action.”

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