The North London borough 'bucking the housing trend' that's on track to build 1million homes

File photo dated 29/9/2016 of new homes being built. Stronger action is needed to free up land for the development of new homes, according to surveyors.
Brent started the building of 510 homes in 2023 -Credit:PA Archive/PA Images

House building across England is in a slump, with the number of new developments being built dropping in each of the last three years. However, a North London borough is one of those bucking the trend, having commenced the building of more than 500 homes last year - up nearly 500 per cent on the previous year.

Across the country, construction began on 149,000 new homes last year, down from 176,000 in 2022 and 178,000 in 2021, according to figures released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC). An industry body has blamed the government for the slowdown, accusing it of ‘putting short-term politics over the needs of the country’ when it comes to building new homes.

However, a North London borough is one of the outliers. The data reveals that Brent started the building of 510 homes in 2023 - up significantly from an estimated 110 the year before (The local authority did not provide complete figures for every month, meaning figures for some periods may have been estimated). The council claims that a ‘solutions-focused mindset’ has allowed it to continue building houses amid growing financial pressures in the sector.

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Wembley Housing Zone. CGI
The Cecil Avenue development sits within the Wembley Housing Zone, where efforts are focused on revitalising Wembley High Road -Credit:Brent Council

The second quarter of 2023 saw a jump in new building starts, as developers rushed to beat new environmental regulations introduced last June. Between April and June, 72,000 new homes were started, about 300 of which were in Brent. But this spike was undone in the second half of the year – July to December saw the smallest number of starts since 2008. Ground was broken for 38,000 new homes, with 140 of them in Brent.

Some of the developments started in Brent over the past year include; the Alperton Bus Depot, which will eventually see 461 new homes, 250 new homes at Cecil Avenue, and the commencement of ‘Phase 2’ of the Grand Union development - which will provide 524 homes upon completion.

In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservative party promised 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, however, there was an 11 per cent drop in the number of houses completed in 2023 - with 158,000 last year. Around 120 homes were completed in Brent last year, a fall from 320 the year before.

Cllr Promise Knight, Brent Council
Cllr Promise Knight said the council is always looking for 'innovative ways' to build new homes -Credit:Brent Council

Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Renters Security, Cllr Promise Knight, said: “It’s true that across the country, house building has slumped. The materials needed to build homes have become more expensive, labour costs have risen and other financial pressures affecting councils have made it increasingly difficult.

She added: “Brent is not immune to these challenges, and we have had to review what we are able to deliver in recent months. However, we have a solutions-focused mindset and are always looking for innovative ways to provide the homes we know residents need. Through working closely with developers and maximising the use of existing council land, Brent has delivered 856 new homes since 2018 with a further 1,211 onsite.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said housebuilding is a "priority" for the Government. They said: "We are on track to meet our commitment to deliver 1 million homes over this Parliament, and are taking significant steps to increase housing delivery through our long-term plan for housing."

They added: "We’ve invested billions in housing to bring forward land for development, enabling the market to deliver the homes and infrastructure that communities need whilst also supporting local authority planning capacity."

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