House-building in the North

There have been many articles in the housing press post-Brexit about how the decision to leave the European Union has or will impact on the housing market. By analysing the latest Department of Communities and Local Government house-building data, we try to show if builders’ confidence was affected by the prospect of Brexit. This article will compare house building in the first quarter of 2016 with the corresponding data of 2015.


In total, between January and March of 2016, there were 8,590 dwelling starts and 7,300 completions across the three northern regions. This equates to almost a quarter of all starts and completions in England (24.2% and 23.2% respectively).

While dwelling start figures for England fell by 10.2% compared with the first quarter of 2015, starts increased in the north by 11.4%. Indeed, total England starts fell in every tenure, whereas there was an increase in northern private starts (12.3%) and housing association starts (6%).

Conversely, dwelling completions fell in every tenure in the north and by a total of 10.9%. This compares to an all England fall of 8.3%. However, there was a 2.2% increase in private building in England as well as a 69.2% increase in local authority building completions compared with a 50% fall in the north.

Regional Activity


North East

    Quarter 1 2015 Quarter 1 2016 Change
All tenures Starts 1,630 1,700 +4.3%
Completions 2,300 1,700 -26.1%
Housing association Starts 170 210 +23.5%
Completions 540 230 -57.4%

North West

    Quarter 1 2015 Quarter 1 2016 Change
All tenures Starts 3,170 4,340 +36.9%
Completions 3,560 3,100 -12.9%
Housing association Starts 270 350 +29.6%
Completions 840 460 -45.2%

Yorkshire & Humber

    Quarter 1 2015 Quarter 1 2016 Change
All tenures Starts 2,910 2,550 -12.4%
Completions 2,330 2,500 +7.3%
Housing association Starts 230 150 -34.8%
Completions 370 290 -21.6%

The tables above show Yorkshire and Humberside bucking the northern trend insomuch as there was an increase in all completions, whilst the North East and the North West showed an increase in starts and decrease in completions – both total and for housing associations.

Sub-regional Activity

There were large increases in starts in Cheshire (73.6%) and Greater Manchester (59.5%) – largely driven by increases in Halton and Bolton respectively. Meanwhile, there were large decreases in starts in Northumberland (-50%) and Humberside (-45.9%). There were decreases in all Humberside authorities with the exception of North East Lincolnshire.

Completed dwellings more than doubled in Cheshire (115%) on 2015 Q1 figures and increased by over two-fifths in Northumberland (42.9%). In the North East, County Durham (-42.9%) and Tees Valley (43.4%) saw the largest decrease in completions.


Barry Turnbull