New housing supply figures ‘paint a deeply worrying picture’

The latest housing supply data released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shows that annual housing supply in England amounted to 216,490 net additional dwellings in 2020-21, down 11% on 2019-20.

According to the data, the 216,490 net additions in 2020-21 resulted from 194,060 new-build homes, 23,790 changes of use between non-domestic and residential, 3,870 conversions between houses and flats, and 530 other gains (caravans, house boats), offset by 5,760 demolitions.

Some 10,603 of the net additions from change of use were gained through permitted development rights (PDR).

These comprised 8,768 additional dwellings from former offices, 835 from agricultural buildings, 167 from storage buildings, 61 from light industrial buildings and 772 from other non-domestic buildings.

A total of 697 of the net additions from new build homes were through PDR and the loss of 25 dwellings from demolitions were through PDR.

Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager at Propertymark, commented: “The UK Government’s latest figures on net additional dwellings paint a deeply worrying picture as industry data tells us that demand is far outstripping supply in both the sales and lettings markets meaning there could not be a worse time for housing delivery to plummet.

“Despite the steady upwards trajectory of new delivery since 2012-13, the UK Government still had some way to go to deliver on their target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s. Based on these statistics, it is looking extremely unlikely they will achieve this.

“Due to the impact of the materials shortage for the construction sector, this also highlights real concern for the UK Government’s ability to meet its target.

“The Covid-19 pandemic’s legacy will have long lasting effects so the UK Government must consider introducing drastic measures to not only deliver the right number of homes, but also the right types in the right places.

“More also needs to be done to bring the astonishing number of empty homes back into use. We know from the most recent figures that the total number of empty homes in England is more than double the UK Government’s annual housebuilding target.

“Looking ahead, we need to make best use of the stock we have and there must be a balance of new supply across all tenures in line with relative need and demand and affordability has to be a fundamental consideration.”

The lack of new homes under construction is a failure of countless governments, according to Imran Hussain, director at Nottingham-based Harmony Financial Services.

“Not enough houses are being built, full stop,” he said. “Even when new properties are being built, we are not building enough affordable homes, which creates liquidity all the way up through the property market. Without all-important first-time buyers being able to buy new, affordable homes, the whole market is straitjacketed. It all starts from the bottom.”

Doug Miller, director at Bath-based independent mortgage broker, Lansdown Financial Services: “The lack of housing supply has been an issue for decades, and while the government has offered help to both developers and buyers, its attempt to fix the issue borders on the pathetic.

“The simple economic principle of supply and demand should not be beyond the academic intelligence of our country’s leaders, and until they put measures and greater incentives in place for developers, the deficit of new homes will only increase.”

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