Housing growth is set to skyrocket in the East of England thanks to the “urban exodus”, according to one of the UK’s largest contractors and property developers.
Andrew Jay, Group Managing Director of Anderson which is working across sites in Essex, Suffolk and the outskirts of London, said homes were being snapped up in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown as people leave cities in search of larger homes with gardens and nearby public open spaces.
“Against the backdrop of the recession unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic, and in defiance of many predictions, house prices in the UK have hit record highs, according to The Guardian,” he said. “Demand for new builds is also increasing.
“We are seeing properties being bought before we even have show homes on site on a level never experienced before.
“There’s been an extraordinary interest in this part of the country where people can still commute into London but don’t actually wish to live there anymore.
“And as the possibilities of remote working and the post-lockdown desire for more space take hold we are expecting there to be a continuing demand for new housing in the East, which can only serve as a good thing for the local economy.”
Anderson is currently building 130 new homes in Sudbury – eight of which have already been sold – and has just completed 90 in Jasmine Park, Ipswich, all of which have been sold and occupied.
Sixty luxury homes on Tottenham Hotspur’s former training ground in Essex have also been purchased as well as 170 of the 850 architecturally-innovative new homes being built in Erith alongside a state-of-the-art primary school for 630 children and a 12-acre ecology park.
Mr Jay said: “The experience of the lockdown was unevenly felt and the fact that most of the country was housebound for months highlighted the disparity in housing quality too.
“Rent in London is astronomical and many people experienced months cramped in a one-bedroom flat with no outside space while paying more than those in a large three-bed in a rural or coastal location.
“It’s little wonder they are looking to up sticks. The issue is going to be meeting supply with demand – but this has always been the crux of the housing crisis in the UK.”
During lockdown, 59% of house building sites closed and there were predictions for a 35% reduction in houses built in 2020.
Mr Jay said: “It seems unavoidable that looking forward, this crisis will scar national housing delivery figures and councils will face challenges meeting housing requirements.
“However, I expect we will continue to see this urban exodus and that as a result in the long run, housing growth will skyrocket in places like the East.”
With the impending arrival of a second lockdown, Anderson is still responding to the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to design and masterplanning.
Mr Jay added: “We are going to monitor trends and futureproof new communities in order to fit with a new style of working.
“That means incorporating more open space, co-working opportunities where possible, community facilities and social spaces.”