Jan Crosby, Head of Housing at KPMG, comments on today’s Government house building figures which show that, despite an uplift in completions, just 33,280 homes were started in the three months to June.
“Today’s house building figures show a worrying 14% decrease from the 40,300 starts in the first quarter of 2015, the total of 73,580 homes started so far this year means we are on track to fall significantly short of the 250,000 homes a year we need to keep up with demand, especially if we are to see a fall quarter on quarter.
“Recent Government announcements around releasing brownfield land and relaxing planning laws should help boost supply as they come on line, but much more needs to be done and the devil is in the detail. While the £10m set aside in the recent Government Starter Homes announcement to prepare brownfield sites for build can only be welcomed, had that money been instead put towards funding additional planning officers it would have a much bigger impact. And that’s the key – in a climate where funding continues to be tight, every penny must be spent in the most effective way, which is why the housing sector and public must continue to call for a long-term strategy.
“While the big problem is still access to reasonably priced land, the Government needs to think more innovatively. Today’s announcement on extending the Starter Homes initiative into villages is an example of that, with small developments of 5-20 homes likely to face far less resistance to planning from local communities, and able to contribute around another 10,000 homes per year. But there are plenty more solutions that could be implemented: the cap on local authority borrowing could be raised; green-belt swaps could be introduced to free up low-value green belt land; and of course regional devolution brings multiple opportunities to do things differently. The Government is increasingly showing that it recognises the housing crisis is real – now we need some lateral thinking to fix it.”
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Frances Shennan, KPMG Corporate Communications
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This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.