Red tape 'strangling' house building in Wales

House under construction Image copyright PA
Image caption Just 882 new homes were registered in the first quarter of the year

Over-regulation by the Welsh government is "strangling" house building, the Conservatives have said.

The National House Building Council (NHBC) said figures showed construction had fallen in Wales from January to March 2014 but not around the rest of the UK.

Just 882 new homes were registered this year, compared with 1,055 in that period in 2013.

But the Welsh government called the comments "complete and utter nonsense".

A spokeswoman for Welsh Secretary David Jones said: "The latest NHBC figures show yet another fall in house construction in Wales, when it is growing in every other part of the United Kingdom.

"Over-regulation by the Labour Welsh government is strangling house building in Wales. The consequence is that builders, such as Persimmon, are voting with their feet and pulling out of the Welsh market."

Last year, Persimmon Homes announced it had stopped constructing homes in parts of the south Wales valleys because it said the sites did not make money.

It said it did not make enough profit on developments north of Pontypridd because of low sale prices.

It also blamed Welsh government red tape, which it claimed added £3,000 to the cost of building a house compared with many parts of England.

NHBC said, around the UK, a total 33,816 new homes were registered in the UK during the first quarter of this year compared to 31,739 a year ago, which is an increase of 7%.

In London, registrations also grew 6% on the comparative period last year.

The figures show Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol are the top three cities with the highest number of new home registrations.

Peter Watton, NHBC director Wales, said: "Although the registration figures for 2014 are down compared to the same period last year in Wales, we are hopeful that we will soon be seeing some encouraging signs once the Help to Buy Wales shared equity loan scheme becomes more established.

"Crucially, this will make home ownership easier for those prospective buyers who have small cash deposits."

A spokesman for Housing Minister Carl Sargeant said: "This is complete and utter nonsense to suggest that we are 'presiding over the death of the Welsh house building industry.'

"The most recent official figures show that there has been a marked increase in the number of new homes under construction in Wales.

"The Tory 'War on Wales' is now resorting to telling outright lies. The people of Wales have seen through this nonsense. No one believes a word the Tories say anymore."

NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said: "The UK still has a chronic shortage of new homes so we must not get complacent in our continued attempts to meet the growing housing needs of the population."

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