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‘Deepening crisis: London house building craters as UK pipeline at lowest since records began

England's house building pipeline is at the lowest level since records began 17 years ago, as fresh pressure is piled on government parties to mend a “deepening housing crisis”. 
England's house building pipeline is at the lowest level since records began 17 years ago, as fresh pressure is piled on government parties to mend a “deepening housing crisis”.

England’s house building pipeline is at the lowest level since records began 17 years ago, as fresh pressure is piled on whoever wins the election to mend a “deepening housing crisis”.

Just 2,472 sites were granted planning permission in the first half of this year, the Home Builders Federation latest pipeline study has found, making it the  lowest quarterly figure since records began in 2006.

The damning report also found London experienced a 39 per cent drop in the number of builds being approved when compared to the same period the year before.

Across the capital just 7,613 units were approved in the first half of the year, down 51 per cent on the last quarter of 2023 and the lowest figure since 2012.

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Other regions seeing significant drops included the East Midlands, which saw a 47 per cent  drop on the previous quarter and 36 per cent drop compared to quarter one last year.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at the Home Builders Federation said the housing pipeline is smaller than 2009 when the county was in the “depths of a recession”.

He explained: “Amidst a deepening housing crisis and with house building levels already falling sharply, these numbers present a bleak picture for future housing supply.

“The report also puts into stark perspective the challenges a new government faces to meet its housing ambitions with a pipeline smaller even than during 2009 and the depths of recession.”

Today’s worrying findings follow what has been a challenging 18 months for the UK’s property sector.

Red hot inflation and low consumer spending hit property developers hard and limited the number of homes that could be built.

Meanwhile, would-be-buyers were stuck renting as they struggled to afford mortgage deals in the face of high interest rates.

The UK’s housing crisis has left voters keen to see what the next political party will do to improve the market.

Labour, which is currently leading the polls, has promised to reform planning rules to build 1.5 million more homes. The Starmer fronted party also said it would give a “first dibs” to locals to end developments being sold off to international investors.

In its 2019 manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to build 300,000 new houses each year by the mid-2020s. However, that figure has not yet been achieved.

Yesterday, Rishi Sunak told BBC he wanted to make it easier for young people to get on the ladder and acknowledged home ownership had become hard under his ruling party. 

Sunak, who unveil the Conservative manifesto later on today, said: “It has got harder and I want to make sure that it’s easier and what we will do is not just build homes in the right places and do that in a way that is sensitive to local communities, but make sure that we support young people into great jobs so they can save for that deposit.”

What next for building in Britain?

Baseley said the UK needs to see “immediate action” to reverse the “damaging changes made in recent years to the planning system and to ensure local authorities have the capacity to deal effectively with permissions”.

He explained: “We also need to see effective support put in place to help buyers purchase high quality, energy efficient new homes. For the first time in many decades, there is no effective government support in place for prospective buyers.

“It is also essential that politicians find a solution to the pointless blockade of 160,000 homes now entering its sixth year as a result of nutrient neutrality, towards which new homes make a negligible contribution.

He added: ”The next government must grasp the nettle and be bold and brave if it is going to help meet the country’s housing needs. Doing so will deliver huge social and economic benefits and the industry stands ready to deliver.”