UK housebuilding third lowest in Europe

Between 2004 and 2013 only Switzerland and Luxembourg, which have the highest average house prices in Europe, built fewer homes.

Grenville Turner, chief executive of Countrywide, said: “The level of house building completed before the market downturn in 2008 has been used by some as a benchmark of the number of homes that should or could be built in the UK.

“However, the 2008 downturn in construction should not disguise the fact that the UK has failed to build the required number of new homes over a much longer period of time.

“A long-term lack of house building has meant that the UK was amongst the least well prepared countries to deal with the fall in house building in 2008.”

France, which has a similar population to the UK, has built 375,000 homes annually on average over the last 10 years.

Turner added: “While comparisons are frequently made to the 1930s and 1960s when the UK was building 250,000 plus new homes annually, the reality is that Britain has changed significantly over the past 50 years.

“Local Authorities no longer deliver meaningful numbers of new homes and large house builders now deliver almost all of the homes built in the UK.

“At the same time, the planning system has grown in scale and complexity with almost continuous reform making little or no difference to the numbers of homes delivered.

“If we are serious about delivering the number of homes the UK needs, we should look to our European neighbours rather than to the 1960s for ways of doing it.”

Housing demand across Europe has shifted West with populations, as 10 of 12 countries seeing their inhabitants fall in the last decade were in Eastern Europe.