Are enough homes being built in North Tyneside?

The current supply of new homes in North Tyneside is only enough to meet around two-thirds of its housing need, according to analysis released today.

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 9:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 9:38 am
Are we building enough homes for the future? Picture by Edward Clack

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit has looked at housing data across the UK’s local council areas to try to paint a clear picture of regional variations in current housing supply compared to long-term targets.

The analysis revealed that a decade after the recession, fewer than one in five areas of England are building enough homes every year at a pace to meet the Government’s medium to long-term housing need estimates, and the majority of areas have still not got back to supplying new homes at the same rates they were before the economic crash.

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And while the figures for North Tyneside show that it has bounced back to pre-recession levels, the borough is only seeing enough new homes created to meet 65 per cent of the Government's assessment of annual housing need.

The average number of homes built per year over the last decade is 540, but the Government suggests 825 are needed annually, while even the council assesses the need as 790.

From 2003 until the economic crash, the number of new homes (not just new builds, but all additions such as conversions) in the borough was up around this level before dropping to below 400 in 2011-12 and 2013-14. In 2016-17, there was a major surge though, with the figure jumping to 892.

A spokesman for North Tyneside Council said: "These figures reflect the challenges that North Tyneside Council and many other local authorities have faced in delivering new homes to meet the needs of residents.

"In North Tyneside, we have a great reputation for positively supporting new housing delivery and this is reflected most clearly in our adoption in 2017 of a new Local Plan to guide the delivery of 16,500 new homes in the borough up to 2032.

"The Local Plan puts the council in a strong position to support the delivery of the new homes that are needed in the borough. Central to this is the allocation of two major new housing sites that will alone deliver about 5,000 homes, with associated investment in new schools, open space, walking and cycling facilities and public transport.

"A host of other major developments are also now under way in the borough, bringing a substantial uplift in housing delivery.

"Prior to the economic downturn of 2007-08, North Tyneside experienced strong levels of housing growth with more than 800 new homes built every year. By 2010, the effects of the recession had slashed this delivery to just 360 homes.

"Securing an strong recovery from those economic difficulties is challenging, but in 2017-18, housing delivery in North Tyneside has topped 1,000 new homes and the average in the borough for the last three years currently stands at 911 completions."

Across England in 2016-17 - the last full year of data available for overall new homes supply rates - 217,000 new homes were created. This was a five-year high, but still significantly short of the latest government target of 300,000 new homes a year.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "This Government is committed to building a housing market fit for the future and 217,000 new homes were delivered in England last year.

"This is up 15 per cent on the previous year and the highest increase in nine years.

"We have also set out an ambitious programme of reforms to boost housing supply – including planning reform and targeted investment to help us deliver an additional 300,000 properties a year by the mid-2020s."

But the Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey MP, claimed the housing crisis is getting worse.

"And while there are certainly failures at a local level, the main responsibility must lie with Government," he said.

"When you have deep cuts in investment in new affordable homes, when you have government weakening the powers of councils to drive a better bargain with big house-builders for people in their area, when you get a Government chopping and changing the planning rules as they have done in five separate acts of Parliament in the last eight years, you get a system which is failing - and we have a housing crisis which housing policy is failing to fix.

"What we get from ministers is still all talk and very little action on numbers. But it’s not just about numbers.

"Part of the Labour plans for dealing with the housing crisis is to say to councils 'we are not just interested in how many you build, and how many get built in your area, we want to see a higher level of homes that are genuinely affordable for people in your area, and we will give as much weight to that as the total numbers'.

"Our definition of affordable links back to local incomes - so what's an affordable home for someone in Cornwall on an average income will be very different to what is affordable for someone in Camden in the centre of London, or in Coventry in the West Midlands. We have to tie our definition not to the market but to average local incomes."

James Prestwich, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, also highlights the importance of affordable housing and has called on the Government to do its bit.

"Central government departments own a lot of land and we know that when government departments dispose of land, they dispose of it at the highest price and not necessarily at the best social value," he said.

"I think there is potential for the Government to take the lead in terms of land it owns. If government was to set a minimum threshold of affordable homes on its own land, maybe 50 per cent, then I think that would show leadership and that would certainly help to boost build-out rates."