Detached houses make comeback as developers shift away from flats

We have failed to build the number of new homes we need to keep up with our population

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The detached family home – a traditional symbol of middle-class suburban domesticity – is enjoying a return to favour, according to official housebuilding figures.

After years of developers focusing on cramped flats and apartments, creating a glut of unfilled high-density schemes in provincial cities, builders are again catering for families with children.

But while the number of private detached homes being built in England has risen by  nearly a quarter to 38,118 between 2013 and 2014, the number of the number of new affordable homes is falling.

Private sector property increased by 13 per cent since 2013, while public sector development in social housing dropped by 4 per cent, with only 34,771 new homes registered compared to 36,271 in 2013. In total, 133,670 new homes were registered with the National House Building Council (NHBC), an increase of 9 per cent on registrations made 2013 but still well below the 200,000 a year required to meet housing demand.

NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said: “It looks like the detached home is making a comeback with our figures showing that housebuilders are building the highest number of detached properties for a decade, with semis also performing well.

“Following an oversupply of flats outside London over the last decade, the growth in detached homes is restoring balance to the country’s housing stock to meet the diverse needs of the UK population.

The figures come as a survey carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found three quarters of people agree there is a housing crisis in Britain. In London, the proportion rose to 76 per cent. Among renters, 81 per cent thought there was a crisis.

A separate survey of MPs found that 68 per cent agree that building affordable housing was a priority for government. The majority accept they must act, with the vast majority (86 per cent) disagreeing with the statement, ‘There isn’t much that British governments can do to deal with Britain’s housing problems’.

The CIH is calling on all political parties to commit to ending the housing crisis “within a generation” by rapidly increasing the number of new affordable homes

“We have failed to build the number of new homes we need to keep up with our growing population for too long. The result is a housing crisis that is being felt by millions of people all over Britain,” said chief executive Grainia Long. “As we approach the general election, our challenge to all the parties is to show us how they could help to resolve it. We know that the government has the power to make a huge difference – by setting a national house building target, for example.”

The NHBC put the drop in public-sector development down to changes to the funding programme, which now requires housing associations to go through two stages to qualify for government support for new homes. The rate of public-sector building is expected to pick up in 2015, and the government has redesigned its funding scheme to encourage the development of smaller properties to help house social tenants hit by the bedroom tax.

David Orr, the chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said that meeting housing requirements would need a long-term government plan, “not just tinkering around the edges”.