Homes under the Hammer

Morton Fraser Partner Amar Wali
Amar Wali
26 November 2019

Wednesday 13 November was the Homes for Scotland 8th Annual Conference.

The day was designed to cover some topical and relevant issues:

  • The macro perspective;
  • Delivering quality and increasing satisfaction;
  • Boosting capacity; and
  • Changing land and planning frameworks.

Here are some insights from the day.

It was no surprise to learn that about 7,000 fewer homes a year are being built in Scotland than needed.  Despite the economic climate, this is one sector where demand continues to grow.

Academics and house builders agree that there is a continuing need for at least 23,000 new homes a year.  That figure rises to 25,000 if you add in extra homes needed to catch up with the backlog.   The under provision of affordable housing is also a great concern.

However against the backdrop of latest official statistics showing that housing completions rose by 15% in 2018 (breaking the 20,000 barrier for the first time since 2008).  This conference considered this progress and whether growth can be sustained in the longer term.

The Scottish Government Housing Statistics for Scotland confirm that housing starts and completions remained relatively strong heading into the first quarter of 2019.

If this level of growth is maintained over the course of the year, the sector should be closer to reaching the 25,000 homes benchmark by the end of 2020.  However, the only thing we can be certain of is greater uncertainty due to Brexit.  Regardless of what the future holds, housing demand will continue to grow and therefore we need to understand and address the issues that may be constraining the delivery going forward.

It was clear from the conference that the main issues that are affecting delivery is the lack of utility network capacity and timescales for statutory consents.

In addition there seems to be a shortage of skilled workers on the ground eg bricklayers, joiners, plumbers etc.  It was great to note that some of the major housebuilder developers are beginning to tackle this at the grass root levels by working with schools and offering increased placements and apprentices. 

The message from the conference was clear to me in that if we all work together eg housebuilders, planning authorities, network operators etc then the housing crisis can be tackled successfully. 

In my view the Scottish housebuilding sector continues to thrive, and our developer and landowner clients are extremely active even during the current uncertain times.  The skills and insight they demonstrate within the industry is excellent.


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