Barbour ABI’s recent flagging of a 6% annual rise in the number of planning applications for home improvements probably won’t come as a huge surprise against the current backdrop of falling transactions. Agencies have been reporting the trend for improving, rather than moving, since George Osborne sat back down after his 2014 Autumn Statement speech.
Countrywide’s Fionnuala Earley summed it up in the firm’s recent national review: “At the moment, it’s a needs-based market rather than desire-based and the factors behind that are squeezed household incomes and expectations about future house prices. We see people improving rather than moving. They are saying, ‘Can I get a loft conversion done rather than pay the stamp duty?’”
Add to that the latest English Housing Survey, which found that up to three quarters of UK homes are more than 50 years old, and you have a pretty good argument for going into the building trade.
Well some new research has drilled down into exactly where those home improvement applications are being submitted, to gauge which areas are spending the most on refurbishments.
Analysis of 12 months’ of stats from the UK’s district authorities provides the fairly predictable takeaway that the most expensive bits of the country are generally seeing the most work being applied for.
Kensington and Chelsea tops the list with 6.8 proposals put in for every 100 private homes, followed by Westminster, tied on with 6.5 with Cambridge.
The latter looks to have seen a remarkable surge – just two years ago, the district barely squeezed into the top 70 of home improvers…
Other high proportions were found in the salubrious surroundings of St Albans, Richmond and Elmbridge.
At the other end of the scale, the bottom three districts for home improvement were found to be Blackpool, with 0.4 applications for every 100 private homes, followed by West Dunbartonshire (0.5) and Stoke-on-Trent (0.6).