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hansonreport


After the rigours of winter, the housing market recovered from hibernation, enabling builders to report a return to a more normal reservation pattern, with a healthy selling season in the spring. In an interim management statement issued on June 10, Bellway reported a sales rate of 111 properties a week from an average of 195 sites, with an average selling price of £182,000, which was an increase of four per cent compared to last year. Demand remains strongest in and around London, where gross margins in excess of 20 per cent have been achieved, and 1,600 reservations have been taken for completion in 2011-2012. Having spent £220 million on land in the year to 31 May, Bellway’s net debt rose to £57 million, but the board expects to have reduced its level of gearing by the end of the financial year on 31 July. HBF, the Home Builders Federation, has helped to


prop up the ailing housing market by getting housebuilders to invest £835 million in shared-equity mortgages, which resulted in 28,000 sales in the first two months of this year. Barratt and Persimmon, the two largest volume builders, rely on shared-equity mortgages for more than a quarter of all their sales. Increasingly desperate about the lowly number of houses being built (with only 103,000 new homes completed in England last year compared with 176,000 in 2007), all government departments are to be required to identify surplus land around public buildings that is ripe for development. This exercise is likely to result in a national register of some 3,000 hectares of land on which 100,000 new homes could be built by 2015. At least, that is what housing minister Grant Shapps believes is possible, though a production of 25,000 new homes a year is hardly anything to write home about. The 40-hectare site of the former Fairmile Hospital site in Oxfordshire is being sold to Linden Homes, but this will only create 354 new homes, including those in the retained Grade II listed buildings. At this rate, the disposal of all 3,000 hectares of surplus land in England would result in only 26,550 new homes being built, which is a shortfall of 73,450 homes. So it’s back to the drawing board for the mandarins


in Whitehall to work out exactly how the target of 100,000 new homes by 2015 can be met. Every government department with significant holdings of brownfield land is required to publish plans of the land that can be released so that the thousands of homes the country needs can be built. The Dunkirk spirit is alive and well in Whitehall, with


a Cabinet committee chaired by Francis Maude going through each department’s plans with a fine toothcomb, to make sure that every possible site is made available for housebuilding. No one dares mention the “homes fit for heroes,” which was the rallying call for homebuilders at the end of the First World War, but you can sense it in the air. We are told that: “property specialists from across government will work with each department and challenge them to release as much land as they can for new homes.” Ministers are also encouraging councils to follow the lead set by central government and make their unused land available for development. Later this year, we are assured, a new map will be launched to show land and buildings owned by public bodies in each area. A new Community Right to Reclaim Land has been introduced enabling residents to apply to organisations – including central government departments and local councils – to bring their sites back into use, opening up the books so local people can see for themselves the assets held by central and local government alike. Clearly, there will have to be limits to such disclosure, as there is much land owned by the Ministry of Defence that is too sensitive to be identified.


The Home Builders Federation has helped to prop up the ailing housing market by getting housebuilders to invest £835 million in shared-equity mortgages


OPENING PAGE


TOP Fairview New Homes, working with E.ON’s sustainable energy business, is


building 726 new homes and an onsite energy centre at Colindale, in the North London


borough of Barnet BOTTOM The Thatchams at Priors Green, Takeley, Essex, is a new community developed by Countryside


Properties with 3-, 4- and 5-bedroom houses for sale at prices from £249,995


THIS PAGE


LEFT The Keyse at Bermondsey, SE16, is a six- storey development of 42 apartments, of which only nine one-bedroom apartments remain unsold at prices from £249,950 TOP RIGHT Canford House at Canford Cliffs, Dorset,


designed by local architect Ivan Maughan for Octagon Developments, adjoins Parkstone golf club and Poole Harbour. It is for sale at £3.495 million MIDDLE RIGHT Little Owl Close, at Dovedale Park, Perry Common, Birmingham, has 131 houses and


apartments developed by Barratt Homes for sale at prices from £118,950 to £145,950 BOTTOM RIGHT New Craven Terrace at


Ealing, W5, is a private development of eight four-bedroom family homes, for sale through Townends Land & New Homes at prices from £830,000 to £840,000


26| July 2011 showhouse


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