There’s a revealing piece in the FT indicating how difficult it is to increase the supply of housing in the short, even medium, term. Rather embarrassingly for the Government, it reveals how few new houses have been built on land sold by government departments for housing development.
Government departments sold off enough land to build 109,500 homes between 2011 and 2015, the National Audit Office found last year. But communities department officials did not collect any data on how many homes were subsequently built, the NAO said.
In response to the NAO’s report, the civil servants have carried out research on 100 of the 942 sites which were sold off and found that 200 homes had been built, according to evidence they gave to a committee of MPs on Monday.
Work has started on a further 2,400 homes, with 2,100 having received planning permission and 4,300 awaiting planning permission, the sampling showed.
Extrapolating this to the whole programme suggests that about 1,800 homes have been built in total, but it is not known what has happened to the other 842 sites which have been sold.
Clearly land is just part of the new housing supply chain. To be fair, unless there’s been a lot of land-banking, there’s probably very good reasons why sites are progressing slowly. But it doesn’t look good.