New home completions in England have increased strongly year on year although starts have stuttered slightly and fell back year on year, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
On a quarterly basis, new build starts in England were estimated at 41,280 in the fourth quarter, up 5% compared to the previous quarter but down 1% on a year earlier.
Completions were estimated at 42,860, some 7% higher than the previous quarter and 17% up year on year. The figures also show that more houses are being built than flats.
Annual new build dwelling starts totalled 162,180 in the year to December 2017, up 5% compared with the year to December 2016. During the same period, completions totalled 163,250, an increase of 16% compared with the previous year.
Private enterprise new build starts were up 8% in the final quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter and completions were also up 7%. Starts with housing associations were 2% higher compared to the previous quarter and completions 1% higher.
All starts are now 141% above the trough in the March quarter 2009 but 16% below the March quarter 2007 peak. All completions are 70% above the trough in the March quarter 2013 and 12% below their March quarter 2007 peak.
The report reveals trends over recent years, showing that starts were broadly steady from 2003 to 2004, averaging around 44,000 units each quarter until late 2007. Starts were strongly affected by the economic downturn from the start of 2008 when there was a period of rapid decline to a trough in the March quarter of 2009. Completions increased gradually from 2003/2004 reaching a similar level to starts by 2007. Completions fell more slowly than starts during the downturn but over a longer period.
From 2009 starts began to recover and during the next two years both series converged and levelled out. More recently, despite fluctuations, starts and completions have started to grow again gradually.
Annual new build dwelling starts were increasing from 2003/2004 until reaching a peak of 183,600 in 2007. Starts fell sharply during the downturn to a low of 75,350 in the year ending June 2009. Since then, starts have experienced some periods of growth and levelling off, and have more recently been increasing, averaging around 158,230 for the past two years.
Similarly, annual completions increased from 2003/2004, reaching a peak of 176,650 in the year ending December 2007. Completions then fell gradually through 2008 to 2010. Despite fluctuations, completions have increased gradually since 2013/2014, averaging around 152,050 for the past two years
There are relatively high rates of new build starts per 1,000 dwellings in areas from west of the London commuter belt across the Midlands to East Anglia. Areas with high rates include Northamptonshire, Essex and South Derbyshire.
The highest rates of completions follow a similar pattern to starts, with particular areas including Croydon, Northamptonshire and Kent.
The proportion of flats increased from just under a quarter of all new build dwellings in 2001/2002 to almost half by 2005/2006, remaining at that level through to 2008/2009. The proportion of flats then fell back to around a third by 2010/2011. In 2016/2017 houses made up 75% of all new build dwelling completions, the highest proportion since 2001/2002.