Just 34,000 new homes built in Q1

Approximately 40,300 homes were started in England in Q1 2015. This is up 30% on Q4 2014 but up just 10% on Q1 2014.

Completions have remained at a fairly constant level since the recession at just under 30,000 a quarter on average – far below the pre-recession peak of almost 50,000.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, said: “Housebuilding starts may be on the increase, but it’s like getting a second wind when you’re already at the back of the marathon.

"Our research shows that London provided planning permission for just 27,000 homes, against a target of 40,000.

"The capital is more than just our financial centre, it’s a symbol for the entire country. It’s no good setting our sights on housing targets if we’re just going to run into the brick wall of planning applications before so much as a trowel leaves the toolbox."

Bridges said it was now time to move the political debate away from managing the public deficit and onto managing the "housing deficit".

He added: “Housebuilding starts might be on the rise, but you have to put this in the context of the deep lull in activity that’s hung over the past six years.

"The financial crisis slammed the brakes on housebuilding, but people haven’t stopped needing homes. We need to rise above the peaks seen in 2007 – and we’re still well short of those.

"It’s time to treat housebuilding like the complex process it is. Bricks on the ground may make the home, but if planning departments aren’t on board in the drive to house the country, we’re only building castles in the sky.”

Meanwhile Conservative housing minister Brandon Lewis welcomed the figures, putting a positive spin on them.

He said: “Housebuilding is at the heart of our plan to ensure the recovery reaches all parts of our country. We’re turning around an industry that was devastated and getting the country building again.

“Today’s figures show these efforts are reaping results, with housebuilding starts having more than doubled since 2009, and completions at their highest for nearly six years.

“It is vital we maintain this momentum, getting workers back on sites and homes built - giving more people the chance to own their own home.”