Savills has released its English Housing Supply Update Q3 2022 revealing healthy construction levels and a strong development pipeline.
As we head towards the end of 2022, the country’s housing supply appears to be on a positive trajectory, placing it in a good position to withstand any headwinds that it may face in 2023.
According to Savills‘ report, all parts of the housing development pipeline enjoyed a period of growth during the year to Q3. This includes consents, new home starts and completions, which all reported growth during the period.
But it was the north of England and the east of England that were the standout regions, with both areas surpassing their housing need targets in the first nine months of the year. The report also notes that these areas have enough granted planning consent to ensure they continue to meet housing supply targets in the short-term.
What about the 300,000 homes target?
Planning consents across the country saw a marginal increase over the period, with approximately 285,000 new homes gaining consent, although this is 12% down on the 2017-19 average.
When considering that the government still has its 300,000 new homes a year target in place, Savills notes that “substantially more consents are needed”, adding: “In order to be sure of hitting the target, consents ultimately need to reach well above 300,000 due to attrition in the development process.”
New home starts saw a huge 28% boost between the first and second quarters of this year, taking the total annual number of new starts to its highest level since just before the 2008 financial crisis.
And on the completions front, the last six months have seen rises in numbers from both housebuilder reports and EPC data, with the latest figures suggesting that 244,200 new homes were built in the year to Q3 2022. The most recent completions peak in 2019 was just 4% ahead of this figure.
Housing supply challenges in the south
Using both EPC data and full planning consent data, the report reveals that a total of four regions in the UK built enough homes during the first three quarters of the year to meet housing needs. These were the north west, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East.
The five remaining regions (West Midlands, south west, east of England, south east and London) had enough planning consents granted to ensure a sufficient housing supply in the future.
However, the south east is set to face a particularly tricky time due to the fact that fewer homes were granted consent than were built up to Q3 2022, meaning housing supply could be set to fall below what is needed; the number of consents was 21% short of what’s needed.
London paints a more promising picture, according to Savills, as 20,500 new homes gained planning consent than were delivered, so there are plenty in the pipeline.
The report notes: “If followed through, that would boost London’s housing delivery substantially, but many consents will be reworked before any homes are built.”
Build-to-rent sees activity slide
The build-to-rent sector has been surging in recent years with huge levels of investment and new developments springing up across the UK. 2021 in particular saw a huge acceleration in this realm, which has proved hugely positive for housing supply in the private rental sector.
However, Savills’ report shows that there has been a slowdown in starts and completions this year so far, which have fallen by 15% and 30% respectively. In London, which is a leading BTR location, completions declined by 36% compared to last year, while there was a 25% dip across other regions as a whole.
The report comments: “Looking ahead, the sector has yet to fully build out previous gluts of construction starts, which should sustain completions in the medium-term even with fewer schemes starting on site.”