Numbers drop to 3,144 despite housing agency bringing forward £650m from future budgets

The number of homes started on sites owned by the government’s regeneration agency dropped by almost three-quarters last year, new figures have revealed.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), formed in December from a merger of the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships (EP), said housing starts commissioned on former EP land dropped 72% to 3,144 in 2008/09, compared with 11,045 in 2007/08. The HCA’s target was 9,175-10,450.

Private sector investment in former EP schemes was also below target at £1.03bn, rather than the target of £1.09bn-1.19bn.

Meanwhile, the National Affordable Housing Programme’s £2.6bn of grant funding for housing associations allowed 10,787 low-cost homes for purchase to start on private sites, compared with a target of 14,000. This was former Housing Corporation funding that was taken on by the HCA.

These falls were despite the body bringing forward £650m of funding from future budgets to bolster building figures.

Conversely, the starts and completions of homes for rent beat their targets by several hundreds, as purchasing a home became more unaffordable. The amount of commercial floorspace built and brownfield land reclaimed was also above target.

Despite a troubled year for the housing market, more homes for rent and low-cost ownership were completed in 2008/09 than the previous year.

Overall, the HCA missed seven out of its 10 targets.

Trevor Beattie, the HCA’s corporate director for strategy, policy, performance and research, said: “We have quite a lot of measures to unlock regeneration projects across the country, but we can’t pretend we have not been affected by the economic climate.”