Towns and cities across England are finding it hard to meet their new house building targets with only 6.5% of the total number of houses planned being built annually, according to a housing review undertaken by Sir Oliver Letwin MP.

Looking at 15 large scale sites where housing demand was high, the findings of the review established that on average it takes 15.5 years from obtaining planning permission to the final construction of new homes.

Regionally, looking at the top 10 cities and towns who are behind on their house building quota, the South of England showed the greatest deficit.

South of England decades behind its annual house building quota

Top of the list was Southend-on-Sea, 33.5 years behind its annual housebuilding target, and managing to build only 250.6 homes each year. This equates to a deficit of 8.405 by 2026.  The prosperous commuter town of Sevenoaks in Kent has an annual build rate of 263, but is behind by 16.3 years in delivering its annual build target, with a predicted build deficit of 4,285 homes by 2026.

Since 1970, Britain has been building roughly 50% fewer new homes than France annually, and yet the level of real house price growth is almost double that of France.

Sir Oliver Letwin, a former Cabinet minister, pointed out that house builders are required to build a mix of homes, including a high proportion of affordable housing, in order to would maintain current house prices whilst allowing housing supply to be built more quickly.

Letwin says developers need incentives

Letwin said: “In my view, it does not make sense to force major house builders to reduce the prices at which they sell their current products in an attempt to solve the problem of market absorption rates.

Potentially, this approach would have a detrimental effect on prices and lending for the property market, leading to problems for the UK economy as a whole and also for major house builders.”

Letwin indicated that developers should be incentivised to build more affordable homes. He also declared that local councils should be granted additional powers to acquire sites for development more cheaply,  to try to speed up the volume of new houses coming to market.