Back the Builders, not the blockers says Starmer.

Written by

Tristan Chatfield


Back the Builders, not the blockers says Starmer.

Keir Starmer placed house building front and centre of Labour Party conference earlier this month but how big a challenge will a potential Labour government face?

With a stated ambition of 300,000 new homes, Labour faces the challenge of closing a substantial gap from the current 200,000 being delivered.

Every year the Office of National Statistics publish the number of house completions and starts of site for every local authority in the UK. This data provides a snapshot of those areas in UK that are making a substantial contribution to tackling the country’s housing needs and those that are not. 

This year’s gold award goes to the city of Edinburgh. Scotland’s capital has delivered over 2,500 completions and an even more impressive 2,800 new starts suggesting that they will continue to perform well over the short to medium term.

Second place in terms of completions goes to Wiltshire, closely followed by Milton Keynes. The latter is no surprise as it continues to be an area of high population growth as was envisaged by the creators of the new town back in the 1960’s.

This year’s wooden spoon is jointly awarded to Gosport and Adur (Shoreham-on-Sea) both of whom have delivered less than ten new homes each.

Whilst green belt housing supply remains controversial it is worth noting that urban areas have provided substantial numbers of new homes over the last decade and continue to do so. Leeds, Manchester and London Boroughs such as Tower Hamlets and Croydon have all demonstrated that the supply of new homes can be an urban as well as rural/suburban ambition.

There are of course a multitude of reasons why the numbers vary so much across the country. Demographics, availability of land, political will, economic growth, and transport links all play a significant role. If we are going to tackle the housing crisis, homes need to be built across the UK, in rural and urban towns and cities, coastal and inland parts of the country. This means that those challenges must be overcome, council’s cannot continue to use these factors as excuses.

The most interesting aspect of this data is the ability to draw comparisons between similar areas. Why has Camden delivered substantially fewer homes than nearby Hackney? Why does Sheffield lag behind other major cities? And why does the Prime Minister’s own patch struggle to build whereas nearby parts of North Yorkshire can?

Some of these variations can be explained but the politics of planning must ultimately be viewed as the key driver for this failure.

If Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister, his government has a clear ambition to build more. His challenge will be dealing with councils who simply won’t build or who come up with rational reasons (or excuses) as to why it isn’t possible. Changing the country takes ambition, vision, and direction but in this case, it will also take hard work and determination to tackle an issue too many politicians have been so frightened of for so long.

If you would like to speak to our regional experts on how to unlock opportunities for housing growth then please contact us below.


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