Newly-published government figures show more than 12,000 new homes were completed in the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) area in the 12 months to March, with work starting on almost 11,000 homes – more than in any other region outside of London.
The statistics reveal that work started on 10,720 new homes across the LEP area, with 12,330 completions recorded*, continuing the upward trend seen across the region in recent years.
Broken down by county, they show that in Essex there were 5,190 completions and 4,690 starts; in Kent and Medway 6,080 completions and 4,990 starts; and in East Sussex 1,090 completions and the same number of starts.
Christian Brodie, Chair of SELEP, said the figures reflected the hard work and innovation of all those involved in house building across the region.
“The LEP has worked alongside a number of partners to help create an environment in which developers can get on with the important business of getting spades in the ground and delivering the new homes that are essential to the region’s growth and economic prospects.
“We are the only LEP in the country with Housing Business Ready status, and we have helped introduce Planning Protocols across the area which see local authorities and developers working together in the pre-application and application stages to overcome the complexities of the planning system which can hold back developments.”
He said SELEP had supported existing developer groups and pioneered the introduction of new ones for each of its three counties, whose Chairs, facilitated by SELEP, now meet each other regularly to exchange ideas and information and share best practice.
“We are also at the forefront of the Government’s Garden Communities programme, with five sites in our area including Otterpool Park, Dunton Garden Suburb and Gilston Garden Town, and work well under way at Ebbsfleet in Kent. In North Essex, for the first time three local authorities have come together to write a common section for their local plans that could see 43,000 homes built in three individual communities.
“These projects are about placemaking, creating employment, skills and a quality of environment to serve a growing population.
“Under the Garden Communities programme, we have the largest number of planned homes officially recognised by Government and a proven ambition to plan holistically and support new communities with the necessary infrastructure.”
The LEP is also working on iConstruct, a business-led project expected to launch in January and which will aim to drive change in the construction industry to bring innovative new approaches to the sector, tackle the skills shortage it is experiencing, promote the benefits of new offsite methods of construction and encourage smaller builders to grow their businesses.
Nick Fenton, Chair of the SELEP Housing and Development Group and Chair of Kent Developers Group, said:
“Construction projects across the South East are proceeding at a pace which has undoubtedly been assisted by the sharing of experiences and knowledge from across the LEP region.
“With challenging Government housing targets to meet, strategic thinking and a collaborative approach is essential. The cross-LEP working groups, the protocols agreed by developers and local authorities, and the support to meet the challenge to accelerate housing delivery are all fundamental to the progress being made in getting completed new homes to market here in Essex, East Sussex and Kent.
“We are pleased to see these efforts reflected in the latest figures and look forward to continuing to nourish these important public-private forums, which are so vital to the local success of the sector.”