An overview of the national housing shortage


Data published on 20 February by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) brings into sharp focus the housing shortage facing England.  Here Scott Brownrigg Planning reviews this issue,  producing a chart which shows housing completions 1946-2013, with the dotted line showing the Government’s long term forecast of new household formations 2008-2031. 


Regular chart updates can be accessed via @JWatsonSB

As can be seen the number of new dwellings currently being completed, which was some 110,000 in 2013, is less than half the number of new households that are forming and that are forecast to form every year to 2031.  Add to that the backlog from previous years and it is no exaggeration to say we are facing a housing crisis. As we look backward on the chart we see that it was only during the massive public sector housing development programme of the 1950s to 1970s that completions reached the levels now required – and that private enterprise house building only ever reached 200,000 units in one year in the mid-1960s.

It is difficult to see how these rates of house building can be achieved without state intervention to acquire land, establish infrastructure and provide investment guarantees.  This view is shared by many who propose a new national programme of new towns or garden cities as being part of the solution for delivering this amount of development sustainably.   All political parties seem to agree and we look forward to seeing the Government’s long awaited Prospectus on garden cities.  In the meantime, the New Towns Act 2015 ? published on 25 February by the Town & Country Planning Association makes an interesting read. Click here to read.