Data reveals build crisis in inner London

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According to new data the number of new build sales in inner London has fallen significantly since last year

A new analysis by the London Central Portfolio (LCP) has revealed a decline in the number of new build sales in inner London.

Compiled from LOREMA and Land Registry data, the research examined build sales in the eleven inner boroughs: Camden, The City of London, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and the City of Westminster.

It found that inner London’s planning pipeline had risen 20 per cent since 2014, with some 106,208 new units approved for development. This mainly comprises of projects in the so-called mega cluster, which is the area around Tower Hamlets and south of the river in the Battersea-Nine Elms stretch. Further growth will occur in both these areas, with the former expected to see 33,239 units built this year and the latter 18,665.

New applications also saw growth, rising 27 per cent when compared to 2013. A total of 17,494 were submitted—111 of which were for high rise towers.

However, despite this growth of new developments there has been a decline in new build sales. According to the LCP’s analysis only 1,491 new units have been sold so far this year. This is a whopping 43 per cent decrease when compared to the same period last year.

Square foot prices have also started to fall, seeing an eight per cent decline in Battersea-Nine Elms when compared to 2014. Comparatively, London as a whole saw prices increase 23 per cent.

Naomi Heaton, CEO of LCP, said: “In light of the plethora of tax hits over the last few years, possibly exacerbated by the uncertainty of Brexit, it appears foreign investors, the majority buyer of new developments, may finally be turning away.

“These properties typically sell at a significant premium, averaging 25 per cent, over older stock. History demonstrates that a saturation of over-priced commodity-style property leads to softening prices, particularly during times of economic uncertainty.

“In Tower Hamlets, for example, which undertook an extensive building program before the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), prices took six years to reach parity with their pre-recession level.

“In contrast in Prime Central London (PCL), where there is very limited new build due to the conservation of its architectural heritage, prices had bounced back by 2010. In a similar fashion, we are again seeing today ‘business as usual’ for older stock.”

PCL, which is defined as the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the City of Westminster, saw just 271 new build sales in the first half of 2016. This is having a significant impact on average prices for London. However, sales activity remained within normal parameters in PCL this year. To date, some 2,606 properties have been sold.

“Whilst no concrete evidence of post-Brexit market dynamics has yet been published, we expect PCL real estate to respond in a broadly similar way as it did during the Global Financial Crisis when the market out-performed almost all other asset classes,” Heaton added.

“A flight to quality and the security of blue-chip tangible assets will be underpinned by the continuing weakness of Sterling.

“Alongside this, the attractions of PCL as a centre of culture, excellence and education with absolute rule of law and unequivocal title to property remain undimmed. We firmly believe that these robust market fundamentals will support continued asset appreciation particularly in the mainstream private rented sector.

“LCP has already seen a 5-fold increase in investment enquiries since the vote.”

The figures, LCP said, show an imbalance between supply and demand of new builds.

Heaton said: “With 51,904 new units slated for Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth alone, this will take a heavy toll on these areas where there is already extensive oversupply and the buying pool is shrinking thanks to ever more tax hikes.

“In the cluster areas, this could have a detrimental knock-on effect for existing home owners, adversely impacting the value of their own homes as well as the economy as a whole, if the Exchequer’s tax take in all likelihood diminishes.”

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