Councils already six years behind house building targets

Michael Lloyd

November 5, 2018

Councils have fallen more than six years behind their own house-building targets, spelling disaster for Britain’s bid to end the housing crisis, modular smart homes provider Project Etopia has found.

Development across the country is moving at such a glacial pace, local authorities are on average 6.2 years behind the rate of building needed to hit targets identified as part of the government’s 10-year plan ending in 2026.

Joseph Daniels, chief executive of Project Etopia, said: “It is alarming to see so many areas so far behind already. If the pace is not rapidly picked up, we will be in an even deeper black hole in 10 years’ time than we are in now.

“Housing need is plain for all to see but not enough is being done about it. There is an air of complacency — everyone knows we need to build more houses and fast, but not enough decisive action is being taken to ease the crisis.

“Fresh ideas are vitally needed, and the most innovative and forward-thinking councils will have to include modern modular housing in their armoury. They can be built quickly, more economically, and still provide the standard of living people expect when they move into a new-build.

“The deficit is only going to grow unless councils think outside the box, and look for faster ways to build homes but retain quality — and modular housing offers this.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government jointly set out annual housing targets with local authorities up to 2026 and published these in September 20171.

However, building in 316 locations identified by the study is set to fall short of housing need by 889,803 homes over the decade.

Some of these areas (75) are keeping pace with housing requirements but just one year in, 241 locations are already in deficit, leaving them 9.2 years behind target on average.

If those councils not building fast enough do not speed up, they will miss their targets to the tune of 1.01 million homes by 2026.

Of the 10 councils which have fallen the furthest behind, it would take until between 2042 and 2060 for all the homes required by 2026 to be built.

Figures show Southend-on-Sea is by far the worst town or city outside London for meeting its targets, and is set to be 8,405 homes short of what it needs by the end of 2026 — if it does not speed up, it will take 34 more years to build that amount of housing stock.

York and Luton are the only other towns and cities that are more than 20 years behind — and all 10 councils with the biggest deficits are two decades off the pace on average.

The Project Etopia study found even councils with fewer homes to build, such as Gosport, Hants, which only needs to build 238 a year, have been struggling to meet their own targets. Gosport is 17 years behind.

Councils have for years been prevented from building new housing stock themselves, leaving them at the mercy of developers whose building can be hampered by economic and planning constraints.

However, the Prime Minister announced at the Conservative Party Conference that the borrowing cap would be lifted to encourage local authorities to commission new developments.

Preston, Lancs, was ahead of housing need by the biggest margin, with Scarborough, North Yorks, and Burnley, Lancs, close behind.

In London, the situation is even worse. Redbridge is in the worst shape in the country — 82.5 years behind its housing need.

Boroughs are 19.2 years behind on average, and those that are in deficit lag their house building targets by 21.4 years. Come 2026, London boroughs are on target to have a shortfall of 429,973 homes.

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