Home delivery agency reports rises in starts and completions

The government's housing delivery body for England has reported substantial rises in building activity under its programmes over the past six months.

New homes: construction up at Homes England sites
New homes: construction up at Homes England sites

According to figures issued yesterday by Homes England, construction started on 15,766 homes on its sites in the six months ending on 30 September, a 15 per cent increase on the number of starts in the same period in 2017.

Meanwhile, 15,704 homes were completed under Homes England programmes, a 31 per cent increase on the figure for April to September 2017.

Homes England reports that affordable homes represented 63 percent of housing starts in the last six months, a 42 per cent increase on the same period last year, and 71 per cent of completions, 19 per cent up from the equivalent period in 2017/18.

The agency says that 13 per cent fewer homes for market sale were started in the six months to 30 September 2018 than in the same period last year. But it says the number of market sale homes completed in this period was up 69 per cent to 4,613, compared to 2,737 last year.

"These latest figures show the overall number of homes being built continues to rise, reflecting the hard work being carried out by the housing industry to build better homes faster," said Homes England chief executive Nick Walkley.

"However, we cannot be complacent. We know there is more work to be done to meet the government’s ambition to deliver 300,000 new homes a year, so we will continue to intervene in the housing market and use our land, powers and influence to make homes happen."

A strategic plan issued by Homes England last month warned that a combination of fragmented land ownership, planning uncertainty, remediation and servicing costs and a lack of strategic infrastructure "mean that land is still a barrier to increasing home building".

Earlier in October, Homes England executive director for land Stephen Kinsella told the Planning for Housing conference that the agency aims to double the 750 staff it employed in 2017 to 1,500 nationwide within the next 18 months, including 150 in a current recruitment round, to build an "activist and interventionist" agency capable of driving up supply to meet the government's target "and do it sustainably".

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