Number of new homes started on the rise in Northern Ireland

The number of new homes being started in Northern Ireland remains steady.

The department’s Northern Ireland housing bulletin shows the number of new dwellings commenced in 2017-18 was 7,519, of which 90 per cent were private.

The number of homes completed over this period grew by ten per cent on the previous year, continuing a long term upward trend.

Nicola McCrudden said: “While this news is welcome, housing supply remains an issue for Northern Ireland – particularly for lower income households and those needing social rented homes.

“We are pleased that our housing associations have exceeded the annual social housing development programme (SHDP) target by providing 1,759 new homes. However demand remains significantly high with over 23,000 households who are in housing stress and waiting for social housing.”

The housing bulletin also shows that despite the SHDP target being met, the number of new homes started by housing associations was 786 according to Building Control.

McCrudden said: “Our members are telling us that issues with the planning system continue to present problems for the sector. The main issue is delays – both in terms of the planning process and relating to the adoption of local development plans across all of the councils.

“Land is also a factor. Sites are not coming to market and when they do, it can be very difficult for housing associations to compete with the private sector in such a buoyant market.”

The latest statistics also show that 18,180 households presented as homeless to the Housing Executive in 2017-18 – with family homelessness now accounting for nearly one third of all applicants.

According to McCrudden the lack of an assembly isn’t helping the situation.

She said: “We need local MLAs to make the case for more social housing and to ensure that the required funding and support is in place to make this happen. The lack of housing policy development in a time of austerity is extremely worrying.

“Our members want to get on with their jobs, building homes and providing support services to tenants and people who are homeless.

“They need certainty around budgets and public policy. It is time for our politicians to deliver on promises to meet the gap between the number of homes we have and the number needed.”