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Last updateTue, 24 May 2022 10am

Even the railway company is building homes, but there still aren’t enough

Construction National blog logoThe housebuilding industry is once more the focus of attention in the construction sphere. After a number of months during which there was a general air of self-satisfaction that a combination of government initiatives and the beginnings of a recovery had resulted in a gradual upward shift in activity, along comes the RICS with dire warnings of a widening gulf between supply and demand.

A greater willingness on the part of lenders to “increase loan to values on mortgage products” is cited as a driver in the surge of interest from buyers, but according to the RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn: “In spite of this, the amount of homes currently up for sale is still nowhere near enough to keep up with demand and – in order for the market to function correctly – this imbalance urgently needs to be addressed.


“Housebuilding starts have picked up recently but we are still well behind in terms of the amount of properties needed. If we are to create a more sustainable market, it is critical that many more good quality homes are built in areas where people want to live.”

The new bubble that a number of senior figures have been cautioning against appears to have started to inflate.

• Meanwhile, the housebuilding industry’s standard bearer, the NHBC, has completed its series of regional award ceremonies for the Pride in the Job competition and has its line-up of finalists for the national awards ceremony in London. The competition continues to receive extensive coverage in the paper version of Construction National. As always, we wish all those making the journey the very best of luck.

• The major infrastructure success story at the moment (not HS2 – I said success story) is Crossrail. The project has been generating news stories on a regular basis – from developing a new nature reserve with the spoil from its tunnels to the discovery of Roman skulls. Now even that project is getting in on the housebuilding act.

Planning permission was granted last week for an amazing residential block right in the middle of the capital. It has been designed by HOK and offers a potential feast for the eye with its multi-faceted exterior. English Heritage had a hand in its design, ensuring it sits well among its listed neighbours.

You can check out what it will look like elsewhere on this site. It is worth a look.

• In the summer I reported on the astonishing number of construction projects going on in Cumbria, comparing the achievement with the dearth of activity in the larger economies elsewhere. The latest scheme to gain consent is the redevelopment of Ulverston town centre, and in particular the former brewery.

Formerly Hartley’s, it was renowned throughout the North West for the quality of its beers. In a strange quirk of fate the brewery, which was owned in the 19th century by a Mr Robinson, was taken over by a larger Robinson’s – Frederick Robinson’s of Stockport, whose headquarters is a one-minute walk from the offices of Construction National.

Ulverston’s other claim to fame is as the birthplace of Stan Laurel. Now the plan to redevelop the old brewery into a supermarket ran into some opposition before consent was granted, so there is the prospect of yet another fine mess.

Chris Stokes