Too few houses being built in Northern Ireland, FMB claim

The rate of house building is not increasing fast enough, the FMB has said

NORTHERN Ireland is falling way behind on house building targets, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The latest official statistics showed there was just 5,393 new homes in the north in April this year compared to the same time in 2016 - a rise of 0.7 per cent

Building Control recorded 5,622 new dwelling completions, just 2 per cent higher than 2015's figure.

That increase is "insufficient" according to the FMB and its director in Northern Ireland Gavin McGuire wants government intervention to address the matter.

“We should be building 11,000 new homes a year in Northern Ireland but we are barely halfway to hitting that target," he said.

"A 2 per cent annual increase at a time of an acute housing shortage is inadequate. The NI house building industry is still yet to recover from the damage done in the wake of the financial crisis and it will take bold government action to revitalise the sector," he added.

"Empowering the SME house building sector is now more essential than ever. Smaller scale developers, which are particularly important in Northern Ireland, struggle under the weight of an inefficient and unresponsive planning system that is in urgent need of simplification and investment.

"Skills shortages also remain incredibly pronounced, which is sagging on the industry’s ability to increase output.

"There is also the issue of access to finance, which remains an impediment to the ability of SMEs to grow and deliver more homes. There are plenty of options available to the NI Executive but it must seize upon them now, otherwise the country’s housing deficit will only continue to increase.”

The Northern Ireland Housing Statistics report was published by the Department for Communities (DfC).

It found there were 776,526 dwellings in the north.

The report found a major drop in the number of new social houses built over the 12 months, with completions falling 27 per cent to 1,209.

There was also a decrease in planning applications for residential developments and single dwellings.

These were down 2 per cent over the year to 7,192.

However, the majority of applications are successful with 94 per cent of the 6,541 decisions made favouring approval.

The report also revealed the volume of housing output in the three months to June this year decreased by 2.7 per cent compared to the previous quarter and was 4.3 per cent lower than the same quarter in 2015.

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