The Tories have fallen in love with house building again. Phillip Hammond hasn’t shown the same enthusiasm as George Osborne with his hardhat and hi-vis jacket… until now! The change in focus seems to be influenced by their desire to get back in power in 2022 and as a result, the Chancellor in his Budget has promised to create 300,000 new households in a year.

Nationally, the number of new homes created has topped 217,344 in the last year, the highest since the financial crash of 2007/8.

Looking closer to home: in total there were 605 ‘net additional dwellings’ in the last 12 months in our area – that’s a decent increase of 53% on the 2010 figure.

The figures show that 96% of this additional housing was down to new build properties.

In total, there were 583 new dwellings built over the last year in Rotherham. In addition, there were 21 additional dwellings created from converting commercial or office buildings into residential property and a further one dwelling was added as a result of converting houses into flats.

I was encouraged that a number of the new households in the Rotherham area had come from a change of use. The planning laws were changed a few years back so that, in certain circumstances, owners of properties didn’t need planning permission to change office space in to residential use. Yes, it’s a small number, but with the scarcity of building land available locally, it was pleasing to see the number of developers that had reutilised vacant office space into residential homes.

Converting offices and shops to residential use could be vital in helping to solve the Rotherham housing crisis. This is especially true when you consider the graph below depicting a hardly spectacular level of house building over the last seven years.

Now we have had the Autumn Budget, Theresa May and Philip Hammond have set out their stall with housing as their key focus.

I was glad to see the Government introducing a variety of changes to improve housing, including more funding for the supply side and an injection of urgency into the planning system.

However, the biggest question is this: just where are the Government going to build all these new houses? Naturally, I’ll be writing about this topic in the future.

As for the topic in hand… the focus on the housing market by the Conservatives is good news for homeowners and buy-to-let landlords. Why? It will encourage more fluidity in the market in the longer term, sharing the wealth and benefits of homeownership for all.

However, these are just targets. In the short term, demand still outstrips supply for homes and that will mean continued upward pressures on rents for tenants.