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New house starts up by 6% in 2015

It has to be good news that more than 143,500 new homes were started in England last year, this is an increase of 6% year on year, and we can report that it is the highest level seen since 2008, in fact nearly double that year which was a low point. Whilst the figures are very encouraging and is what the government and house hunters need, there is still concern about the slowness of the planning system.

The figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government are very encouraging and they show that in the final quarter of 2015 37,080 homes were started and this is an impressive increase of 23% on the same quarter of 2014, and a massive 91% increase when compared to June 2009. In addition the figures show that yearly housing completions totalled 142,890 for the whole of 2015 which is 21% more than the previous year.

These returns confirm that both the starts as well as the completions are at their highest level since 2008, we have achieved a figure of 700,000 plus new homes that have been commenced since April 2010. Planning permissions shows that 59,875 homes were granted permission and this was a 12% rise on the same quarter in 2014 12% up.

There is however concern over the planning process and whilst the highest number of permissions was granted since 2008 at 242,819, starts cannot be made on many because they still have parts of the planning system to navigate; this we understand could take a further two years. This is the reason for concern by developers over the process a concern and it seems not shared by Communities Secretary Greg Clark, who claimed the reforms to the system are delivering the permissions needed.

But it is the planning system that is concerning Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the House Builders federation, suggesting that the house building industry’s ability to meet demand and increase output is down to the rate at which planning permissions are granted. Outline planning is welcomed, but there are still massive complexities that have to be navigated through before any starts can be made. What the industry needs is the time taken to takes for applications to be processed to the point that builders can actually build, has to be speeded up.

Not all regions are seeing the huge number of starts and it is areas such as Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire experiencing high levels of starts along with areas in North Oxfordshire and the Thames estuary.

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