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NHBC stats show private home starts are down 72pc

The NHBC’s latest housebuilding statistics show 14,537 applications to start new homes in the combined private and public sectors in the three months to February.

The applications are 59 per cent down on the same period a year earlier when 35,733 applications were made.

Of the 14,537 applications to start new homes, 7,931 related to private sector activity – 72 per cent lower than the 28,533 in the same three-month period a year ago.

Public sector figures for the three months to the end of February totalled 6,606 – 8 per cent lower than the 7,200 in the same period a year ago.

New build completions in the combined private and public sectors totalled 26,918 in the three months to the end of February – 32 per cent lower than the 39,499 in the same period a year ago.

The average number of daily sales of new homes in the UK from December 2008 to February 2009 was 333 – 37 per cent lower than the 525 a year earlier.

NHBC chief executive, Imtiaz Farookhi, said: “With the number of applications to start new homes in the public sector remaining broadly consistent in recent months, our statistics suggest that house builders are increasingly relying on public sector work in the downturn.”

The Housing Forum today called for a radical shake-up of housebuilding and planning priorities to better accommodate current market conditions and better insulate for future market recovery.

Unveiling the findings of its Reaching for Recovery report, the Forum highlighted the need to review funding and planning models, re-evaluate land value and quality standards and ultimately reinstate a stronger sense of realism about the short and long term challenges facing the house building industry.

The report summarises the findings of four cross-industry working groups to investigate several key areas of housing industry reform including.

Each group produced a set of proposals which will be further developed in collaboration with The Housing Forum members and taken to Government.

Housing Forum chairman Jeffrey Adams said: “The need to increase housing volumes and improve existing homes does not lessen in the wake of the financial crisis – rather the challenges and timescales for delivering reform simply become tighter and shorter.