English housebuilding 'could drop below 100,000'

Annual housing completions in England could fall below 100,000 for the first time since the nadir of the recession, industry experts warn today in a report.

The annual study reveals that only 110,000 homes were built across England in 2011 and that completions in the first quarter of 2012 were 18 per cent down on the level in the first three months of 2011.

"Our expectation is that this could lead to annual completions in 2012 falling below 100,000 for the first time since the height of the recession in 2009," it says.

Such a rate is well below that needed to hit English councils’ current target of providing 160,000 new homes a year and to meet the 185,000 annual total set out across England’s regional strategies, the report says.

Furthermore, in May, the government said that 232,000 households are being formed in England each year, it says.

The report is by a group of property experts led by consultancy Tristan Fitzgerald Associates and property adviser BNP Paribas Real Estate.

Last year’s report, which was published after the government had announced its intention to abolish nationally set housing targets, found that 37 per cent of England’s councils had not yet confirmed any new housing targets.

This year’s report reveals that nearly three-quarters of those councils have now set targets, equating to an average 19.5 per cent cut or a fall of 20,100 homes a year.

Dan Angell, account director at Tristan Fitzgerald Associates, said: "In order to keep the housing market alive, the government needs to introduce swift changes that will ensure that current housing targets are not only met, but also that they are not further reduced."

To boost housing delivery, the report recommends that cash for local infrastructure raised from developers using the Community Infrastructure Levy should be spent quickly on community facilities to help win approval from local residents to development.

It also calls for league tables of housing delivery against targets with penalties for councils that fail to meet their goals and for planning application fees to be increased provided the quality and speed of service is improved in return.

Housing the Nation can be viewed here.