Northern Ireland

NI new house building 'still close to recorded lows'

The number of new houses being built in Northern Ireland is still close to recorded lows, according to new official figures.

They show that, between July and September 2013, 1,103 housing starts were made, which is down 34% in the same period in 2012.

That was also the third worst quarter since 2007.

The total number of new houses being completed was 2,040, a decrease of 12% on the same quarter in 2012.

However, over the last year the trend for completions is upwards, while the trend for new starts is broadly flat.

That suggests that some projects that were started and then mothballed during the housing crash have now been restarted.

Justin Cartwright, from the Chartered Institute of Housing Northern Ireland (CIH NI), said that while the trend for private sector completions continues to increase, the sector is still under-delivering.

He said: "The fact that not enough homes are being built will have a knock-on effect on affordability, particularly for first-time buyers.

"While the executive is on track to meet its new social homes target, more housing is desperately needed in this sector. Around half of those who are homeless or in housing stress are not being housed."