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Building flattens across Scotland

‘More needed to meet demand’ says housing chief

Nicola Barclay 2

Nicola Barclay: more planners required (photo by Terry Murden)

Homes industry leader Nicola Barclay today made a fresh appeal for a big push on improving planning approvals to help new developments get off the ground.

New housing statistics published show overall housing output in Scotland continuing to flatline with only 88 more homes (1%)) built in 2016 than the year before. 

Figures also indicate that things will not be improving any time soon with a fall in the number of homes (279 or 2%) being started in the same period.

Ms Barclay, chief executive of industry body Homes for Scotland, said the authorities needed to pay more attention to allocating land where people want to live and where housebuilders will therefore invest.

She said it was imperative that planning was speeded up to help meet demand.

“We need to make sure sites are allocated where people want to live,” she said. “Housebuilders will not invest in sites they cannot sell.

“We also need to make sure there are resources to deal with planning applications. There is strong demand out there but it has never been harder to get these sites out of the ground.”

Ms Barclay added: “Whilst the Scottish Government highlights a 29% increase in funding approvals for ‘affordable housing’, allocating grant is very different to actually building homes.   

“More concerning for the population of Scotland is the big picture in relation to total figures across all tenures for which completions are still over 36% down on 2007 levels and still less than what was built in 2010.

“The private sector is the biggest housing contributor overall yet the number of homes being started on site was down 8% in 2016, equivalent to over 1,000 homes.

“With Scottish economic growth predicted to be half that of the UK in 2017, building the homes our country needs could help fill the void that will be left by large, soon to be completed infrastructure projects such as the Queensferry Crossing.

“To reap such benefits, however, we need a supportive policy framework, particularly in relation to the planning and regulatory system, which should encourage housing investment and development.”

> Housebuilder Bellway said today that housing completions for the year to the end of July are expected to have grown 10% from last year’s 8,721, marking another year of significant volume growth and ahead of its original target.

In a trading update for 1 February to 4 June, the company said sales demand was strong, with a 13% rise in the reservation rate to 221 per week.

Meanwhile, the total order book at 4 June, 70% of which is contracted, stood at 5,819 homes compared to 5,346 homes the year before, with its forward order book of homes due for completion beyond 31 July at £900m, up from £846m.

Bellway said the housing market remains positive and continues to be supported by low unemployment, good availability of affordable mortgage finance and the continued provision of Help to Buy. Customer demand for new homes remains strong across all regions and has increased throughout Spring, unabated by any uncertainty in the weeks leading up to the general election. 

 

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