Current level of housebuilding 'woefully inadequate'

Reports that the number of affordable homes built in Britain "has risen for the second consecutive year but analysts warned that the current level of housebuilding remained woefully inadequate" feature in today's newspaper round-up.

An article in The Times (subscription) says that "sixty thousand homes classed as affordable were supplied between April 2017 and March last year, according to official figures. While this is an improvement on the 43,473 built in 2015-16, it is still below the ten-year average of 62,400." The paper adds that "analysts have warned that the government will only hit its [300,000 annual homes] target if it increases funding for affordable housing because it can no longer rely on the private sector."

The Times reports that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ construction and infrastructure survey has "found reduced optimism in the industry, with respondents citing evidence that the housing market slowdown was also weighing on investment decisions". It adds: "More than 500 construction surveyors in Britain took part for the report, a leading indicator for sentiment. A net balance of 10 per cent noted an increase in workload, down from a quarterly average of 19 per cent since the European Union referendum vote in 2016."

The Times also reports that "ministers knew more than three years ago that HS2 could go £1 billion over budget and did not tell MPs before they approved it, secret papers show". The paper says that "documents released after a long freedom of information battle show that in 2016 bosses behind the high-speed rail line admitted that there was a £1.1 billion ‘cost gap’ between its own internal estimates and the government’s official position".

The Times reports that plans have been submitted to Westminster City Council to turn a "1970s car park below Cavendish Square near Oxford Circus into a 280,000 sq ft development across four storeys below ground." The paper says that the plans would see the site "transformed into a £100 million medical, retail and leisure complex."

An article in The Financial Times (subscription) says that "first-time buyers are shunning one-bedroom flats in favour of larger three-bed homes, according to research which found aspiring buyers are prioritising the ‘dream home’ over gaining a toehold on the property ladder". The paper says that "only 10 per cent of first-time buyers sought a one-bedroom property in 2019, while two-fifths of aspiring buyers set their sights on a three-bed home in spite of the expense entailed in buying a larger property, according to analysis by property website Zoopla."

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