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Housebuilding soars to a 33-year high in England

New data shows that last year the delivery of homes reached numbers not seen in over three decades. And housebuilding will now play an important role in England’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

Official statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government reveal 243,770 homes were delivered in 2019/20, which is the highest number of homes built in a year since 1987. It was also the seventh year in a row that the number of homes delivered has increased.

Housebuilders added more than 1,700 student accommodation units and 2,130 communal dwellings to the housing stock. Additionally, the government’s reforms to change of use made nearly 27,000 new homes available.

The development of new-builds is a big part of the increase in housing, making up 90% of the homes delivered from 2019 to 2020. In years to come, the delivery of more new-build properties can help the UK meet the shortage of housing.

Since 2010, more than 1.8 million homes have been delivered throughout England. Over the past decade, the government allocated £3.9bn through the Housing Infrastructure Fund, the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes programme and the Help to Buy schemes. These have helped bring certainty and confidence to the sector.

Housebuilding’s role in recovery

The government has been supporting housebuilding during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, the government extended planning permissions. This ensured construction that was temporarily disrupted could continue. Additionally, change of use and permitted development rights have been updated. More reforms are likely to come into effect next year as well to speed up the planning process.

“Build, build, build” is a large part of the government’s strategy for the UK’s recovery post-pandemic. The government has made housebuilding a key focus and has pledged to “level up” the country.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, comments: “Delivering new homes generates huge investment in infrastructure and amenities in communities, benefiting both new and existing residents.

“Looking ahead, building more high quality, environmentally friendly homes can play a major part in supporting the economy as the country recovers from the impacts of coronavirus.”

Additional funding for housebuilding

In the Spending Review, the government announced £20bn of investment in housing, including £7.1bn for the National Home Building Fund. The government claims the fund will unlock 860,000 new homes. The Spending Review also included £12m of resource to take forward changes to the planning system.

As a whole, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments will receive nearly £10bn of funding in the 2021/22 financial year. The majority of these funds will go towards developing additional new-build homes.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick comments: “The pandemic has posed significant challenges for home building but this government will continue to support the industry and the £20 billion investment announced at the Spending Review will ensure we deliver the homes this country needs.

“In the longer term, our overhaul of the planning system will deliver even more high-quality, sustainable homes in the communities which need them most.”

The future of housebuilding

The construction sector adapted well to the challenges brought by COVID-19 and social distancing measures. Since the outbreak, better planning and general productivity improvements have been made on construction sites. These improvements could help the sector deliver more new-build properties in a timely manner in months and years to come.

Additionally, through the National Home Building Fund, funding will be going towards modern methods of construction. These construction methods have numerous benefits, including speed of deliver and better quality. Offsite-built houses and modular homes can help add more high-quality housing to the UK property market.

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