House-building numbers fall despite affordable housing shortage fears

PUBLISHED: 07:43 26 August 2019

House-building rates have slowed. Picture: PA/Andrew Matthews

House-building rates have slowed. Picture: PA/Andrew Matthews

PA Wire/PA Images

A housing group has spoken out after a survey indicates fewer homes were built in North Somerset last year.

According to the Ministry of Housing, communities and local government data, 600 homes were built - five per cent fewer than the previous year.

Campaigners say not enough effort is being put in to increase the amount of affordable housing across North Somerset.

The survey indicates work started on 240 homes over the same period, down from 290 in the previous year.

An estimated 180 of these ongoing residential projects are financed by private developers.

Across England, house building rose by six per cent over the same period.

Member of the Congresbury Residents Action Group, John Mills said: "We have always expressed concern about the way private developers try to avoid or reduce the number of affordable houses to be included in any development.

"We are aware also that so called affordable housing is not necessarily accessible to many working people.

"Council housing is where the need lies, and that must be down to North Somerset Council."

In Congresbury, plans for homes off Smallway and the A370 were approved in October 2017 with a lower than recommended amount of affordable homes to make the development 'viable' - a move which drew criticism from then ward councillor Tom Leimdorfer.

From April 2018 to March 2019, 169,770 new houses were completed in England and 82 per cent of them were built by private enterprises.

Senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation - a think tank that works to improve living standards - Lindsay Judge, said the housing market cannot rely solely on the private sector to increase the supply of homes.

She said: "While the number of new homes completed in England has increased in the last year, the number of starts has barely increased at all, and the Government looks set to fall well short of its ambition of creating an extra 300,000 new homes every year.

"It is unlikely the Government will ever hit its target unless there is a change in housebuilding across both the private and public sectors.

"While the Government has made sensible steps to encourage local authorities to build, more needs to be done.

"The Government should do more, especially to increase the number of affordable homes built for those that aren't going to be able buy properties at full market value any time soon."

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