House builders built the highest number of detached homes for a decade last year – more than during the height of the property boom in 2007.
Detached houses registered with NHBC rose sharply in 2014 from 30,849 to 38,113, with growth particularly marked in the regions.
Following an oversupply of flats outside London over the last decade, the growth in detached homes is restoring balance to the country’s housing stock to meet the diverse needs of the population.
The renewed vigour in the detached market comes as NHBC reported a 9% increase in the overall volumes of homes registered to 145,174 in 2014.
The final quarter of the year was particularly strong with an increase in registrations of 17% to 38,157.
Yorkshire and the Humber, Wales, Northern Ireland, the West Midlands and the South East are all now outpacing London in terms of the year-on-year percentage growth in the number of new builds being registered.
Wales recorded the strongest percentage jump, with registrations up by one third (33 per cent) on 2013.
After the exceptional growth in 2013, London has returned to growth levels in line with the UK as a whole.
The capital, which has historically been the main driver of housing growth in the UK, recorded a 10% increase in new housing registrations from last year’s record figure of 26,230 to 28,733 in 2014.
Overall, the private sector recorded a 13% increase on last year with 110,403 new homes registered compared to 97,399 the previous year.
Public sector volumes were down slightly by 4% from 36,271 in 2013 to 34,771 in 2014, which may be a result of changes in funding through the Affordable Homes Programme.
While there was a significant increase in detached homes, NHBC figures also show there were 31,650 semi-detached homes registered last year – an increase of 12% on 2013.
In contrast, the number of flats increased by just 5% with 48,685 registered last year – just over half the number registered at its peak volume in 2007 (90,221).
NHBC Chief Executive Mike Quinton said: “We are encouraged to see that overall house-building levels grew by 9% last year – building on the strong volumes registered in 2013. The regions were the big drivers of growth in 2014 showing that the recovery is no longer centred in London and the South East.
“Whilst the overall growth last year is to be welcomed, we are still building below the levels seen before the economic downturn and below what this country needs.
“With the General Election just three months away, it is therefore very encouraging that housing remains a top priority for all the main parties.”
Local authorities should be freed to do more to stimulate building new homes, a report commissioned by the government has claimed.
Written by housing finance expert Natalie Elphicke and Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council Keith House, the report says that councils can play a greater role in the supply of housing and the push to get Britain building.
The author proposes that councils become “housing delivery enablers” working to asses the specific housing needs of their area.
In addition councils are urged to consider ways they can actively assist smaller and start-up housing businesses locally, helping with land, finance or training.
Elphicke and House also urge the government to take steps to support councils as they take on this new role.
House said: “We have seen some inspiring examples of councils driving housing for their areas, particularly where they have set up housing companies to drive forward housebuilding.
“With skills and confidence, more councils can help to deliver that step-change in housing supply.”
Elphicke said: “We have talked for a decade. There have been many great reforms. Now it’s time for councils to foster a homebuilding revolution.
She said: “Councils hold the key to shake up the status quo and to get Britain building.”
The government welcomed the core recommendation in the review that councils should become housing delivery enablers.
It also accepted the proposal that it should consult on extending the local government Transparency Code to cover all Housing Revenue Account land.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis told the Commons: “We also accept other key recommendations, including that the government monitors schemes to support small builders, and considers strengthening advice to encourage more councils to pro-actively support neighbourhood planning.”
The Elphicke-House report: from statutory provider to housing delivery enabler: review into the local authority role in housing supply
House builder Crest Nicholson has beaten its house building target early, raising completions 16% to 2,530 homes over the year.
The uplift helped the south east house builder to boost operating profit by a third to a record £128m on sales up 21% to £636m in the year ending October 31.
Over the year open-market average selling prices rose 15% to £287,000, helping to lift operating profit margin to 20%.
Crest said it had taken on nearly 100 extra staff in 2014, lifting the total to 711.
Stephen Stone, chief executive, said: “Crest Nicholson enters 2015 in a strong position and we are encouraged by the strong start to the year.
“Improved access to mortgages and real income growth underpins our confidence in the market and in generating high quality returns.
“As we grow towards our natural scale, we maintain our Southern focus and commitment to building high quality homes where people want to live.”
But he warned the surge in house building growth continued to cause a shortage of bricks, blocks and other materials as suppliers struggled to respond to increasing levels of output.
Stone said Crest had extended beyond its traditional UK supply base to overcome delays, but schedules had suffered and were also interrupted by a long period of extremely wet weather in some of its regions.
He also said building costs were continuing to rise, particularly wage rates for comparatively scarce skilled trades such as bricklaying.
Crest is responding with fresh measures to increase practical knowledge and skills on its sites through a new quality manual and inspection processes.
“These are designed to promote good workmanship and prevent poor practices such as substitution of materials, which can contribute to the performance gap between design and as-built,” he said.
Crest also added 3,730 plots to the short-term land pipeline, across 25 sites, giving it a short-term land pipeline of 6.8 years.
New homes "Think Tank", The Futures Group, details how to rise to the challenge of delivering better homes for the consumer.
Contributors to The Futures Group include leading experts from national house builders, manufacturers and regulatory bodies.
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