Rise in housebuilding in Bedford – despite national slump

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Building started on around 970 homes in 2023 – up from 810 the year before

More new houses were started in Bedford last year, new figures show.

But across England, the housebuilding sector has seen a slowdown – with an industry body accusing the Government of "putting short-term politics over the needs of the country" when it comes to building new homes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show building commenced on around 970 homes in Bedford in 2023 – up from 810 the year before.

Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show building commenced on around 970 homes in Bedford in 2023 – up from 810 the year beforeFigures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show building commenced on around 970 homes in Bedford in 2023 – up from 810 the year before
Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show building commenced on around 970 homes in Bedford in 2023 – up from 810 the year before

Across England, construction began on 149,000 new homes last year, down from 176,000 in 2022 and 178,000 in 2021.

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 570 of which were in Bedford.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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 120 of them in Bedford.

Steve Turner, executive director at the Home Builders Federation, blamed the Government's "weakening of the planning system, removal of housing targets and lack of support for buyers" for holding up construction of new homes.

He said: "Despite the acute housing crisis we face, all indicators show further declines in supply ahead – frustrating the housing aspirations of the younger generation and costing thousands of construction workers’ jobs.

"Putting short-term politics over the needs of the country will have long-term consequences for the economy and society, and must be addressed."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Conservative party promised 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s in its 2019 manifesto – but there was an 11% drop in the number of houses completed in 2023, with 158,000 last year.

Around 640 homes were completed in Bedford last year, a fall from 730 the year before.

The Social Market Foundation think-tank warned the last time England was hitting this target was in the 1960s.

James Gollings, deputy research director, said: "If we want to get back to 300,000 a year, public sector building clearly needs to play a much bigger role, especially with private sector construction slipping in the last couple of years."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The organisation added while planning reform is regularly touted as a solution to problems with housing supply, reforms are often "watered down", reducing their impact on housebuilding levels.

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."

"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," they added.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.