The 22nd June saw the release of the latest housing statistics from Homes England. Whilst COVID-19 has impacted on the housebuilding industry with a reduction in starts and completions, the figures released show encouragement that the housing market is starting to recover. Overall, 37,330 new houses started on site and 34,995 houses were completed during the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. Here, Victoria Lane MRTPI – a Chartered Town Planner with CrowdProperty provides her thoughts on what these latest figures mean for the industry.
The article prepared by Homes England confirms that there has been a reduction in both starts and completions as a result in the slow down of housing activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also noted that the proportion of affordable homes started and completed was down on the previous year. However, three quarters of the starts registered were for affordable homes which represents 28,191 starts with 24,023 completions.
Peter Freeman – Chair of Homes England said:
“The statistics released today show that we’ve kept making homes happen despite the huge impact of COVID-19 on the housing industry…We know there are still hurdles to overcome but we’re encouraged by recent data to suggest the sector is recovering well. With increased Government support through the new £12bn Affordable Homes Programme, we’re sure the foundations are in place for the housing sector to come back stronger to deliver the new homes the country needs.”
Victoria echoes these thoughts of Peter Freeman. She feels encouraged by the statistics by notes that we are still some considerable way off providing the 300,000 new homes required across the UK per annum.
“The statistics released by Homes England are certainly encouraging. Whilst the housebuilding industry expectedly slowed down during the unprecedented pandemic over the past 18 months, it is encouraging to see it starting to recover. We are still a considerable way off providing the level of housing required across the UK to meet the shortfall, but these latest figures show that the industry as a whole is moving forward at a rate of knots and we need to keep this pressure up to ensure that the homes that are so desperately needed can be delivered.”
Of greatest concern to Victoria is the drop in affordable housing delivery. Affordable housing is a real issue concerning the UK with some areas making it impossible for first time buyers to enter the property market as house prices continue to soar. She considers that the stigma surrounding affordable housing needs addressing alongside removing the NIMBY attitude to development.
“Affordable housing is a real issue in the UK. There are thousands of people who are on the housing choice based lettings register waiting for suitable accommodation and these are real people in real need now. The stigma of affordable housing needs a radical change. Gone are the days where affordable housing resulted in ‘modern day slums’, they are well managed and often occupied by professionals as a step on to the property ladder.”
So this momentum in the industry needs to continue. We need to continue securing successful planning applications for new development and ensuring starts on site are swift to deliver the significant shortfall in properties across the UK. Local Authorities need to be proactive in both decision-making and plan-making, ensuring that their Development Plans are kept up to date and focus on the correct level of objectively assessed housing need to deliver the correct number of new dwellings for their administrative area. The process can be laboured and time consuming which has a negative impact on the number of starts and completions as demonstrated in the latest statistics, but proactive professionals in both the public and private sector can work successfully together to ensure that delivery does not slow the market down.
Here at CrowdProperty, our deep, hands-on asset class expertise, offering property finance by property people, ensures that we are best placed to assist in all enquiries and the team has been bolstered by the appointment of Victoria a Chartered Town Planner with over 15 years experience to add further deep expertise to our proposition. To find out more about how we can help with your development, apply in just 5 minutes at www.crowdproperty.com/apply