House-Building Continues to Grow in England
Figures just released show that there was an increase of 6% in the number of new homes that were started across England last year, and the figures for completion rates are also up, indicating that the housing sector is continuing its growth out of the recession. However, the planning process is still slowing down some development plans, with properties potentially stuck in the system for up to three years.
The statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government highlight that over 143,500 properties were started in 2015, which is almost double the rate in 2008, when the industry was at its lowest point. The figures for the last quarter of the year show that 37,080 homes began construction, which is an increase of 23% from the same time in 2014 and 91% more than the figure recorded in June 2009.
As well as a growth in new building starts, the rates of completion are also growing, with 37,230 properties finished in the fourth quarter of last year, including those with helical stairs. This is 6% more than in the third quarter and a 22% increase from the same period in 2014. In total, there were 142,890 housing completions in 2015, which is 21% more than the 2014 rate.
However, this rise in property starts and completions is tempered by a sluggish planning system, which is still restricting the level of growth in the industry. Data released by the Home Builders Federation shows that 59,875 properties received planning permission in England in the third quarter of 2015, which is 12% up on the same time the year before.
There remain, though, significant delays in the system, and many of the properties that the data identifies still have to negotiate parts of the process, which could take up to three years. Housing developers have significantly raised their output levels in recent years, with the biggest companies growing by almost 50%. Any further increases will be affected by the number of planning permissions that are granted, especially once plans receive outline permission and then have to negotiate the later stages of the system.
Even though more properties are getting planning permission, the industry is worried that the delays incurred by some developments are becoming longer. It is hoped that a more efficient system will benefit the sector and lead to a further rise in building rates in the coming years.