William Eichler 25 June 2019

Councils build ‘highest number’ of houses since 1990

Over 13,000 new houses were delivered by local authorities last year, town planners have calculated – the highest number since 1990.

Drawing on figures supplied by 83 English councils, the Royal Town Planning Institute identified at least 9,000 homes directly created by councils in England in 2017-2018.

Of these new houses, 42% meet the official definition of an ‘affordable’ home and 23% are social.

The RTPI projected the figure across the whole of England and estimated that over 13,000 new homes were delivered by English local authorities last year.

Figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government suggest that the previous high for local authority housebuilding was 14,020 homes in 1990.

‘Having local authorities back as key players in the housing market is vital to tackling the housing crisis,’ said RTPI president Ian Tant.

‘It’s great news that they are becoming more active again, delivering a wide range of house types to meet a wide range of needs.’

The RTPI study also found that much of this building activity has been delivered through companies wholly or jointly owned by councils, with 78% of local authorities now owning a housing or property company.

Of those councils without a housing company, 20% are considering establishing one.

While he welcomed the uptick in council house building, Mr Tant warned that the lack of land is ‘still a major issue’.

‘The Government needs to help councils access land at the right price to develop themselves or sell to earn the income they need,’ he said.

‘Government should also consider a more direct role in increasing supply and influencing the location of housing.’

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