Housebuilding growing as associations take the initiative

Social housing built by housing associations made up the majority of new starts in 2015/16
Social housing built by housing associations made up the majority of new starts in 2015/16

A resurgence in new projects from the province’s housing associations has been given as the reason a burst of new house building in Northern Ireland according to the latest government figures.

The number of new starts here hit a five year peak in 2015/16, attributed to social housing provision said the Department for Communities, which compiles the figures.

That total was 6,713 starts, a 12% increase compared to a total of 5,990 for 2014/15.

However that figure is in stark contrast with the tally in 2005, the peak year, of more than 15,000 starts.

The number of houses completed also increased slightly year-on-year from 5,501 to 5,622.

The impact of the social housing sector, which took the lead in the wake of the property crash, can be seen in the fact that starts in that sector rose by 58% from the previous year, while commercial housing development increased by just 6%.

However, while private sector completions increased by 8%, social housing completions fell by 27% on the year before.

The Department statitstics also show a fall in residential planning applications from 7,339 to 7,192. It said that 94% of the 6,541 planning decisions made were for approval; the majority (26%) relating to rural single dwellings, with (25%) relating to urban extensions and alterations

The figures came as Ulster University research revealed that the overall average house price in Northern Ireland has significantly increased over the year, yet only marginally over the past three months.

Produced in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Progressive Building Society the UU analysis from January to March indicated the average house price rose 5.9% to £153,448 over the year and less than 0.5 per cent over the quarter.

The volume of house sales for Q1 2017 was lower than Q4 2016 but the report said sales remained at a reasonably healthy level. The research points to seasonal impacts on the market and suggests that increased uncertainties arising from Brexit and locally the current political impasse may have also contributed.