The Impact of Building Houses vs Flats

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The balance of new build flats and houses swings dramatically over time at the national level. While we would expect to see differences between localities based on their size, setting and the dynamics of their local population the impact of government policy on the type of homes we build is highly significant.

Prior to 2000, properties generally built at a density of less than 25 homes per hectare with the majority (over 80%) of new build completions houses. New planning guidance in 2000 (PPG3) encouraged a shift from large detached homes towards higher density development (30-50 units per hectare).

By 2007/2008, 50% of all new properties built were apartments, it is no coincidence that this was a period when completions reached a record high of over 200,000 per year. In 2010, the government scrapped the higher density target and left decisions on the provision of affordable housing to Local Authorities.

By 2015/16 three-quarters of all new build completions were again houses, with three-storey town houses a popular choice for developers. The long-awaited Housing White Paper is due to be released imminently – is it likely to include policy that will shift the balance once again?

Here in West Oxfordshire, only 7.3% of housing comprises a 1-bedroom dwelling and 25% of sales in the past 12 months were flats, achieving an average sales price of £225,400 in Witney.

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