Housing starts barely a third of what’s needed

Sarah Davidson

August 16, 2012

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said the figures demonstrate the widening scale of the problem in delivering sufficient new housing.

This decline in activity was visible both amongst private sector developers and housing associations.

Rubinsohn said: “The paltry number of new starts over the last three months is barely one-third of what is generally accepted as the required number to meet the growing level of demand across the country and suggests that government measures taken to date including the New Homes Bonus is having little impact.

“There was speculation earlier this week about government measures to relax planning rules on affordable housing and it’s clear something bold is desperately needed to address the current housing crisis.”

Earlier this week communities secretary Eric Pickles bemoaned the number of local housing projects mothballed because of Section 106 agreements forcing developers to make a financial contribution to the community or provide affordable housing, amenities or infrastructure as part of their planning permission.

Pickles revealed expert brokers will now offer a free-of-charge advice and support service to councils and developers to stop Section 106 agreements being a barrier to getting building underway.

And he said: “Tackling problems with stalled development is essential to getting builders back on moth-balled sites and building the homes we need. There is huge potential in sites to boost local economies and we simply cannot afford to have them lying idle because of earlier agreements that are no longer viable.

“The support and advice the expert brokers will offer is one of the many measures we have introduced to get development underway and I hope councils grab this chance to make use of the support we are offering.

“Our reforms to the planning system are already cutting planning red tape and making the system simpler and more accessible to communities and businesses. And further changes we’re introducing will simplify national planning policy even more and streamline the planning application process.”

The support and advice being offered to councils is just one of a number of measures the Government is taking to help boost development. The £570 million Get Britain Building fund is tackling the housing shortage and creating jobs and the £770 million Growing Places Fund is providing local areas with flexible funding to get the infrastructure built needed to build new homes.

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