Latest MHCLG stats show annual housing supply in England amounted to 241,130 net additional homes in 2018-19 – up 9% on 2017-18.
But by those stats there’s still some way for the government to go to reach 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020s.
“Based on the stats some 86,000 homes are still needed,” said sector commentator and Private Finance mortgage consultant Chris Sykes.
“Whatever the outcome of [the] general election, the next government must ensure reaching this target remains a key priority if affordability is to continue improving for homebuyers,” he said.
The stats show the 241,130 net additions in 2018-19 resulted from 213,660 new build homes, 29,260 gains from change of use between non-domestic and residential, 5,220 from conversions between houses and flats, and 940 other gains (caravans, house boats etc.), offset by 7,940 demolitions.
According to the stats, 14,107 of the net additions from change of use were through ‘permitted development rights’, with full planning permission not required.
These comprised 12,032 additional homes from former offices, 883 from agricultural buildings, 199 from storage buildings, 69 from light industrial buildings, and 924 from other non-domestic buildings.
“You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know we aren’t in the sunlit uplands, but rays of sunshine are starting to break through,” said Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen.
“Figures from the last 10 years show that following a substantial slump in the aftermath of the economic downturn, additional housing supply has been steadily climbing by nearly 15% on average per year between 2012-2017.
“A dip in 2017/18 – precipitated no doubt by the looming Brexit thunderhead – seems to have been overcome, and we’re now back to a 9% annual increase,” said Sommerville.
“Fortunately, the government has also woken up to the need to address Britain’s housing shortage in part through technological innovation.
“This includes implementing data-driven solutions to enable housebuilders to better identify the best areas to build on.
“We may not be home and dry yet but at least we stand a better chance of getting a roof over our heads,” he said.
Andrew Southern, chair of property developer Southern Grove, said the stats were a “hugely promising” sign.
“There is finally some real momentum behind moves to boost housing stock, and levels are now surging beyond their pre-crisis peak,” he said.
“The best news of all is that this 9% increase in net dwellings is being driven primarily by a similarly strong hike in new build completions, which are also growing at 9% annually.”
“The industry must build on this success and cannot rest on its laurels.
“The property market is crying out for more new homes, the demand is there, and local authorities, particularly in the cities, need to be open to creative ways of encouraging more affordable schemes in high density areas,” he said.
Vadim Toader, founder and CEO of Proportunity – a fintech company offering Help To Buy-style loans – warned the “welcome news” of an increase hid the toll taken by years of weak wage growth and a challenging savings environment.
“So many still need a helping hand to get onto the housing ladder.
“With the end of Help To Buy fast approaching, the next government needs to work out a replacement fast if we are to keep the dream of homeownership alive,” he said.